“FactCheck.org”

Fact-checking comes to the Amazon Echo

New skill from the Duke Reporters’ Lab allows users to 'ask the fact-checkers'

By Erica Ryan – October 21, 2016 | Print this article

The Duke Reporters’ Lab has created a new fact-checking app for the Amazon Echo.

The app is a spin-off of Share the Facts, a project that has expanded the reach of fact-checking. The launch partners are PolitiFact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and FactCheck.org.

With the new Share the Facts skill, owners of the Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices, including the Tap and the Dot, can “ask the fact-checkers” about claims they hear from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as other candidates and politicians who have been checked.

Share the Facts is now available in the Skills section of the Alexa app. (To find it, open the Alexa app on your smartphone, click on the left navigation panel, and then select “Skills.” From there, you can search for “Share the Facts” and select “Enable Skill.”)

We encourage you to try checking candidates’ claims from your couch after watching a campaign ad or during a discussion around the dinner table.

To begin a query, say: “Alexa, ask the fact-checkers.” (If you’re using the Tap, you’ll need to press the microphone button first and then say, “Ask the fact-checkers.”)

We have found it often works best if you wait for Alexa to reply, “Welcome to Share the Facts. We consolidate fact-checks from some of the most respected journalists in the U.S. Ask me to check a fact you’re wondering about” — and then ask your question, such as:

  • “Did Donald Trump oppose the war in Iraq?”
  • “Was Hillary Clinton right that her email practices were allowed?”
  • “Is it true that 300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance because of Obamacare?”

Try to use the most important keywords in your question, following the examples above.

Share the Facts uses natural speech recognition to analyze and answer your questions from our database of roughly 2,000 professionally curated fact-checks. We scale our results so that they are timely and have the most consensus among our partners.

We welcome your feedback on our new Echo skill Share the Facts. Please send your thoughts to Share the Facts project manager Erica Ryan.

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Fact-checking Twitter feeds offer new way to follow 2016 campaigns

New Reporters’ Lab feeds track false claims, all checks of Clinton and Trump

By Erica Ryan – August 25, 2016 | Print this article

The Duke Reporters’ Lab has created three new Twitter feeds to help voters keep up with fact-checking during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Twitter feeds feature fact-checks from three partner sites: PolitiFact, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and FactCheck.org. All three are part of the Share the Facts project, an effort to expand the reach of fact-checkers using a shareable widget that summarizes their conclusions.

The feeds allow you to follow fact-checks of both major party presidential candidates, as well as falsehoods from across the political spectrum:

Share the Falsehoods (@sharefalse): This feed automatically tweets a Share the Facts widget any time a claim is determined to be:

Share Trump Facts (@share_trump): This feed includes all fact-checks of Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Share Clinton Facts (@share_clinton): Like the Trump feed, this account will update with all fact-checks of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

These three new Twitter feeds join the main Share the Facts Twitter account (@sharethefact) and the project’s Facebook page in offering easy ways to find and share fact-checking.

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5 share-worthy fact-checks of Clinton’s acceptance speech

Use our widget to share the facts behind the nominee’s talking points

By Erica Ryan – July 29, 2016 | Print this article

As Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential candidate to accept the nomination of a major political party on Thursday night, fact-checkers dug into the talking points and attack lines that peppered her speech.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org were among those sorting the truth from the fiction. Here’s a roundup of five of their fact-checks that you can share on Facebook and Twitter using the Share the Facts widget, created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google. You can also embed them in articles and blog posts.

1. “Don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it.’ Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland.”

Clinton used this line to contrast her style with that of her opponent, Republican Donald Trump. But FactCheck.org found it’s not so cut-and-dried: “In fact, Trump said that as a political outsider only he can fix a ‘rigged’ system. He has spoken about working with others many times, including in that same speech.”

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2. Trump ties are made “in China, not Colorado. Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin.”

PolitiFact was able to verify all of the examples Clinton cited – except for the picture frames made in India. It also found some Trump-branded products made in the U.S., such as his signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

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3. “More than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that’s where the money is.”

These numbers are based on older data, according to The Washington Post.

“There is increasing evidence that income imbalance has improved in recent years as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession,” it reports. The most recent calculations show the top 1 percent got 52 percent of the income gains between 2009 and 2015.

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4. “Nearly 15 million new private-sector jobs” have been created since President Obama took office.

FactCheck.org found this number to be inflated: “In fact, since January 2009, when Obama took office, the private sector has added 10.5 million jobs.”

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5. Trump “claimed our armed forces are ‘a disaster.’”

PolitiFact tracked down this quote from the Republican candidate during a January debate: “I’m very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger,” Trump said. “Our military is a disaster.”

He doesn’t seem to have repeated this wording, PolitiFact found, and in more recent comments has focused more on what he sees as a lack of resources, calling the military “depleted.”

Share the Facts Widget Embed

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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6 Clinton claims you’re likely to hear in Philly

Use our Share the Facts widget to highlight fact-checking during the Democratic convention

By Erica Ryan – July 25, 2016 | Print this article

The Republicans kept fact-checkers on their toes during their convention in Cleveland. Next, it’s the Democrats’ turn as they gather in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton.

Below is a preview of some talking points you may hear during the Democratic convention and how the fact-checkers at PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and The Washington Post have rated their accuracy.

You can share these fact-checks – and many more – using the Share the Facts widget created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

We encourage you to post the widgets on Facebook and Twitter, or even embed them in articles and blog posts.

On Trump’s finances

On the first night of the convention, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is slated to speak. She has previously painted GOP nominee Donald Trump as a “small, insecure money-grubber,” and she’s likely to repeat previous attacks on his finances.

One claim we might hear is that Trump was “hoping for” a crash in the housing market back in 2006 so he could profit – which PolitiFact rated Mostly True.

Share the Facts Widget Embed
Another claim Democrats have repeated – that past federal tax returns show Trump “hasn’t paid a penny in taxes” – didn’t hold up as well to PolitiFact’s checking. While Trump has declined to release recent tax returns, records show that he did pay income taxes in some years during the 1970s.

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On children and families

The second night of the convention is scheduled to focus on how “Hillary has spent her entire career working to make a difference for children, families and our country,” according to the convention website. One campaign-trail claim Clinton has made on that theme is that she worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

While The Washington Post verified that Clinton played a role in the effort during her time as first lady, it was mostly behind the scenes at the White House and not as “a public advocate who directly worked with lawmakers in both parties.”

Share the Facts Widget Embed

On the economy

President Obama is set to speak on the convention’s third night, which will have a theme of “Working Together” – something the president and his one-time rival have had to do many times since 2008.

One argument Clinton has made for extending her party’s control of the White House is that the economy has fared better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones. While an analysis by two Princeton economists bears that out, FactCheck.org ruled that Clinton is putting a spin on the facts because “the authors of that report do not credit Democratic fiscal policies for the economic growth.”

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Another economic claim Clinton has made is about her Republican opponent’s opposition to the federal minimum wage. While Trump has suggested he’d like to see workers earn more than $7.25 an hour, PolitiFact reports, he has said he would prefer to leave that up to the states, without any federally mandated minimum.

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On foreign policy

Clinton will take the convention stage on Thursday night. As the former secretary of state, Clinton has compared her own foreign policy chops to Trump’s, which she considers lacking.

However, FactCheck.org found she goes too far when she claims that Trump said he boosted his foreign policy experience by running a Miss Universe pagent in Moscow. What he really said was he knew Russia well because of it.

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Bonus: What you won’t hear in Philly

We imagine no Democrat in Philadelphia will even say the word “email” if they can avoid it. But if you want to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the scandal that engulfed Clinton after leaving her post as secretary of state, multiple fact-checkers have broken it down.

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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Fact-checking Trump’s speech with the Share the Facts widget

A tool from the Reporters’ Lab can help counter politicians’ distortions

By Erica Ryan – July 22, 2016 | Print this article

Republican nominee Donald Trump’s 75-minute acceptance speech on the last night of the GOP convention sent fact-checkers into overdrive.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org all produced roundups of their research into dozens of Trump’s claims. Here’s a look at four of those claims and the resulting fact-checks, which you can share using the Share the Facts widget.

The widget was created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google. We encourage you to use the widget to share fact-checks on Facebook and Twitter, or even embed them in articles and blog posts.

1. “Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000.”

Here’s how the three fact-checking organizations currently using the Share the Facts widget weighed in on this Trump claim. Click “Read More” on each widget to see the facts behind their conclusions.

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Share the Facts Widget Embed
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2. “America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.”

According to the fact-checkers, this claim from Trump had serious problems.

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3. A “550 percentage increase in Syrian … refugees … [Democrat Hillary Clinton] proposes this despite the fact that there’s no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from.”

While Clinton has proposed allowing as many as 65,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., fact-checkers find Trump’s claim that “there’s no way to screen” is not true.

Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed
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4. “Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years.”

While the fact-checkers note that Trump has a credible source for his numbers (The Post, in fact), they find he’s guilty of cherry-picking data to give the impression of a scary trend.

Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed
Share the Facts Widget Embed

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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Six Trump claims you’re likely to hear in Cleveland

The GOP convention provides an opportunity to use our Share the Facts widget

By Erica Ryan – July 15, 2016 | Print this article

Politicians love talking points. The scripted lines provide consistency for campaign messages and quotes that are often irresistible to journalists. Talking points are used repeatedly, even by a candidate like Donald Trump who is known to stray from his script.

With the Republican National Convention about to start, we thought it would be helpful to show some of the stock lines we expect to hear and how the nation’s fact-checkers have judged their accuracy. It’s also an opportunity for us to showcase the Share the Facts widget, our new tool that summarizes fact-checks.

For the past several months, PolitiFact, The Washington Post and FactCheck.org have been using the widget, which was created by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

The three fact-checking outlets have already created more than 1,000 widgets, mostly from the 2016 presidential campaign.

We encourage you to share the facts by posting the widgets on Facebook and Twitter, or even embedding them in articles or blog posts.

On Benghazi

According to The New York Times, the first night of the convention is set to focus on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans during Democrat Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Here’s a look at one Trump claim that FactCheck.org found didn’t hold up to scrutiny.

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On Immigration

Another issue expected to be in the spotlight on Monday night is immigration – an especially hot topic for Trump, who has proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He says the president has the authority to do it, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker found he’s largely correct.

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The Post gave him one Pinocchio because the president does have “broad powers to deny admission of people or groups into the United States. But the power has not been tested in the way that Trump proposes.”

Trump earned four Pinocchios from the Post for a claim tying crime to immigration.

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On the Economy

The second night of the convention is scheduled to have an economic theme, so we expect to hear claims about taxes and trade. FactCheck.org has noted that Trump is fond of repeating that American taxpayers pay more than residents of other countries – which it found isn’t true (though the U.S. business tax rate does rank among the highest in the world).

Share the Facts Widget Embed

Trump also speaks frequently about the U.S. trade deficit with China, and he’s accused Clinton of making it worse. But PolitiFact found he’s assigning the blame in the wrong place, since the secretary of state has a small role in trade policy.

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On His Bid for the Nomination

Keeping with tradition, Trump is expected to speak on the last night of the convention – a speech that is sure to produce many claims for fact-checkers to examine. As he accepts the party’s nomination, he may repeat an assertion about his vote totals in the primary elections that PolitiFact found is mostly true.

Share the Facts Widget Embed

Stay tuned throughout the Republican convention for more opportunities to share the facts.

Want to embed fact-checks like this in your articles and blog posts? Contact us for the easy instructions.

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At GlobalFact 3, a call for transparency and impartial fact-checking

Now that fact-checking has matured, "we need to make sure that our work is rock solid."

By Bill Adair – June 9, 2016 | Print this article

My opening remarks at GlobalFact 3, the third annual meeting of the world’s fact-checkers, oragnized by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and the Reporters’ Lab, held June 9-10, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It’s amazing how our group has grown. Our latest tally in the Duke Reporters’ Lab is 105 active sites around the world, which is up more than 60 percent from last year.

We’ve also seen marvelous growth in international collaborations. Alexios has organized some impressive check-a-thons for economic summits and other events, uniting more than a dozen fact-checkers for a single event. And a few months ago, Africa Check joined PolitiFact for an unprecedented partnership to check claims about global health and development.

Our fact-checks are increasingly having an impact. Politicians cite them in speeches and campaign commercials. One organization recently emailed its senior staff reminding them about the new Africa Check-PolitiFact project, cautioning them to be accurate in their statements. In Ireland, attention generated by a Journal.ie fact-check halted a viral social media campaign to “name and shame” Irish parliamentarians for their purportedly low attendance at a debate on mental health services.

More than 100 people attended the conference, which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
More than 100 people attended the conference, which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Here in Argentina, Gabriella Michetti, vice-presidential candidate on the Macri ticket, was asked about a “Falso” she got from Chequeado. She replied, ”I saw that on Chequeado. Which is why we corrected ourselves and never repeated it.”

Our audiences are growing. In the United States, the three big fact-checkers are all reporting record-breaking traffic. A debate article by FactCheck.org got more than 1.8 million page views on the site and partners such as MSN.com.

In the United States, we have a presidential candidate named Donald Trump — perhaps you have heard of him — who has shown why fact-checking is so important. Some pundits have said his disregard for facts shows we live in a “post-fact” era when facts no longer matter. But I think it shows a more positive story: we know about Donald Trump’s falsehoods because of the tremendous work of a growing army of fact-checkers.

We’ve reached a point where fact-checking is no longer a novelty. It’s no longer something that we have to explain to the people we’re checking. It’s now a mature form of journalism — and an expected part of how news organizations cover political campaigns and government.

But now that fact-checking has matured, it’s time to make sure we push our journalism to the next level. To maintain our status as trusted sources, we need to make sure that our work is rock solid. Our fact-checks must be thoroughly researched using the most independent sources available. Our writing needs to be clear and concise.

We need to show that we do not play favorites. We need to be impartial and apply the same standards to everyone we check. And we need to check everyone.  As Rem Rieder wrote in USA Today in a column this week that mentioned our meeting, for fact-checking to work, “it has to be an equal opportunity endeavor, strictly nonpartisan.”

In the past year,  the students and colleagues who maintain our fact-checking database have come across a couple of sites that primarily check one party in their political system. That’s not fact-checking; that’s advocacy. To be a reputable fact-checker, you must check all the players in your political systems.

Fact-checkers also need to be transparent in our work. We need to explain how we choose statements to check and how our ratings work. We need to reveal our sources and be clear how we reached our conclusions.

We also need to be transparent about the funding and structure of our organizations. We need to explain who gives us money and reassure our readers and consumers that we are not political activists.

We also need to continue to expand our audiences. I continue to be surprised by the relatively limited use of fact-checking on television. We should seek more partnerships with TV networks and show them that the fact-checking makes great TV. You will love hearing from our keynote speaker, Natalia Hernández Rojo, who does some of the best TV fact-checks in the world for La Sexta’s El Objetivo in Spain. We can all learn a lot from Natalia.

Finally, I want to conclude with a suggestion. In catching up with many of you in the past couple of days I have realized that I have not done enough to follow your work. So I’m going to set a new goal to read one fact-check every day. I’ll randomly choose a site from our Reporters’ Lab database and read the most recent one.

I encourage you to do the same thing — a fact-check a day. It’s a new way that we can continue to build our community. By reading each other’s work, we can learn about each other and improve our work.

It’s a wonderful time to be in our movement. Fact-checking keeps growing and it has become a powerful force that informs democracies around the world. We need to maintain that momentum and make sure that our work is the best it can be.

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New Share the Facts widget helps facts – rather than falsehoods – go viral

Duke Reporters' Lab and Jigsaw develop easily shareable tool to expand fact-checkers' reach.

By Bill Adair – May 12, 2016 | Print this article

The Duke Reporters’ Lab is introducing Share the Facts, a widget that provides a new way for readers to share fact-check articles and spread them virally across the Internet.

The compact Share the Facts box summarizes the claim being checked and the fact-checker’s conclusion in a mobile-friendly format. The widgets have a consistent look but can be customized with the fact-checkers’ logos and ratings such as Pinocchios or the Truth-O-Meter. The standardization allows readers to recognize fact-checking whenever they come across it on the web and to post Share the Facts on social media and by embedding the boxes in articles and blog posts.

The widget summarizes fact-checks and allows readers to click to the original article.
The widget summarizes fact-checks and allows readers to click to the original article.

Fact-checkers can create Share the Facts boxes using a simple template developed by the Reporters’ Lab. The form generates the HTML of the box that can be pasted into content management systems or embedded in the same way as Tweets. Share the Facts boxes are also fully machine-readable, enabling new ways of assembling automated collections of fact-check findings from across the Internet. For example, someone could set up a page that compiles Share the Fact boxes from a single event or a particular candidate.

Share the Facts will be helpful to columnists and bloggers because they’ll be able to compile and display several boxes for a debate or a candidate the same way they embed tweets.

Share the Facts was developed by The Reporters’ Lab and Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

The widgets are customized with the logo of the fact-checking site.
The widgets are customized with the logo of the fact-checking site.

The widget has been tested in the past few weeks by The Washington Post, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. The Reporters’ Lab has been incorporating feedback from those sites and will be making the widget available to other fact-checking sites this spring and summer.

“We are excited to participate in the Share the Facts project,” said Eugene Kiely, director of FactCheck.org. “It gives voters the ability to more easily share fact-checking stories and find fact-checking stories.”

Glenn Kessler, the editor and chief writer of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, said it “will be a terrific tool for readers to share the results of our fact-checking. In this exciting, fact-challenged campaign year, I expect it will expand the reach and impact of our work.”

For articles from FactCheck.org and other sites that don't use rating systems, the widget can include a short text explaining the conclusion.
For articles from FactCheck.org and other sites that don’t use rating systems, the widget can include a short text explaining the conclusion.

Said Aaron Sharockman, the executive director of PolitiFact: “Share the Facts is part of the antidote to the massive spread of misinformation. We all know how quickly falsehoods can spread on the Internet. Now readers have a simple tool to fight back with facts.”

For more information,  go to www.sharethefacts.org

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SciCheck

SciCheck puts political claims under a microscope

FactCheck.org's new channel gets funding for an election that is already testing the bounds of scientific reality.

By Julia Donheiser – November 2, 2015 | Print this article

Developmental psychologists say that most nine-month-olds are just learning how to roll over and utter familiar sounds.* But nine months in, the SciCheck fact-checking channel is standing upright and — to the delight of its proud parents — loudly challenging the politicians it catches toying with science.

SciCheck is part of FactCheck.org, a 12-year-old journalism project run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The new science-oriented feature launched in January to expose “false and misleading scientific claims.” With a new Congress and a competitive presidential campaign, there’s been no shortage of material — from the impact of medical marijuana and genomic research to the environmental consequences of volcanoes and barbeques.

SciCheckThe initial funding for SciCheck came in the form of a $102,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation, a philanthropic organization created in the name of longtime CBS president Frank Stanton and his wife. Now, as part of a new $150,000 grant, the foundation will keep SciCheck in business through the upcoming election year.

Annenberg Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson has said she got the idea for SciCheck during the early stages of the 2012 presidential race, after hearing Republican candidate Michele Bachmann make false claims about the HPV vaccine. Four years later, when Republicans Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina suggested that vaccines pose unproven dangers, SciCheck was there to call them out.

The science section’s sole fact-checker is Dave Levitan. He was a freelance writer for nearly ten years after earning a masters in journalism from New York University, where he also received a certificate in science, health and environmental reporting. SciCheck is Levitan’s first job as a staff member. “The biggest transition was just going into an office everyday,” he said. “I’d been used to working from home.”

While other big-time national fact-checkers — such as PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker — occasionally check scientific claims, Factcheck.org has “a dedicated area of a site and a dedicated person” to focus on those topics, Levitan explained. “I don’t cover much besides science.”

SciCheck closely follows the usual FactCheck.org format for challenging a politicians’ statement. Unlike the fact-checkers that examine both true and false claims, SciCheck only reviews statements it suspects are false or misleading.

Levitan translates scientific studies and evidence into more accessible terms to confute the politicians — a process that can send their spokespeople and spin doctors toggling from Politico to Scientific American.

Scientific topics can draw in a different kind of reader than a typical political fact-check. “It may be a different, specific group that’s interested in science, but SciCheck really is just part of the site, focused on scientific topics,” Levitan said. “I write a little bit differently than someone writing about jobs or immigration, but that’s just the nature of the topic, not necessarily a focus on the audience.”

Despite SciCheck’s nonpartisan status, a majority of its fact-checks have been about Republican claims. Of the 35 stories published so far, only five focused on Democrats’ false or misleading statements, while 25 concentrated on Republicans’. (The remaining posts included a fact-check that covered statements from both parties and video recaps of previous stories).

Levitan’s boss and FactCheck.org’s director, Eugene Kiely, said he is not concerned about the disparity. “Generally speaking, we don’t keep score,” Kiely said. “Our job is to give voters the facts and counter partisan misinformation. We apply the exact same standards of accuracy to claims made by each side, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Levitan attributed the disparity to the Republican presidential candidates’ domination of media coverage. “I think a big part of it is that there are more Republican candidates, so they do a lot of campaign events,” he noted. That means “there are just more opportunities” to get things wrong.

“We are nonpartisan and will cover absolutely anything either party says,” Levitan said. “So if they get science wrong, I’ll cover it.”

Twelve SciCheck stories to date focused specifically on climate change — nine on Republicans’ claims and three on Democrats’. On that issue, Levitan said, “It does seem like there’s more skepticism among politicians than there is even among their constituents.”

The truth is, climate change — like many scientific questions SciCheck covers — is a partisan issue. A 2015 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, for instance, found that 71 percent of Americans who lean Democratic believe global warming is due to human activity, compared to 27 percent of those who lean Republicans.

For fact-checkers, separating the science from the politics and putting claims in context is important. “Sometimes what we write about isn’t necessarily that you got a number wrong but is that you’re spinning a given fact to fit your narrative,” Levitan said.

To broaden its audience, FactCheck.org is seeking new distribution outlets for SciCheck’s works, with stories already picked up by Discover Magazine, EcoWatch.org and the Consortium of Social Science Associations. “I expect that we will expand that further during the 2016 presidential campaign, since we typically get more traffic and attention in presidential years,” said FactCheck.org’s Kiely.

Answers in science aren’t always clear cut. But with SciCheck coming of age this election cycle, voters may have a better guide to help them sort science fact from science fiction.

______________________

* We checked.

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CNN fact-checking

Fact-checkers spin-up for presidential debates

With facts and falsehoods flying, political watchdogs are rolling out and reviving election-year features.

By Shaker Samman – September 22, 2015 | Print this article

Fact-checking season is underway, and some new players are getting into the act.

FiveThirtyEight, NPR, Vox and Politico unveiled new fact-checking features for the presidential debates that began last month. Others revived their truth-seeking teams, joining usual suspects such as FactCheck.org, the Washington Post and PolitiFact in their perennial efforts to verify what politicians are saying.

The fact-checkers often focus on the same claims, but coverage from last week’s Republican debates in California showed the varying ways they use to explain their findings. In its coverage, CNN rated statements on a scale similar to PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter, while the New York Times and NPR chose to work without a grading system similar to the FactCheck.org model.

CNN fact-checking
CNN said its Fact-Checking Team “picked the juiciest statements, analyzed them, consulted issue experts and then rated them.”

As in last month’s first debates, hosted by Fox News, the Post set aside its four-Pinocchio scale, offering a single scrolling summary of multiple fact-checks before following up additional posts in its usual style. Politico’s Wrongometer, CNN and NPR used similar models. Others posted individual items about specific claims or packaged a number of individually linkable fact-checks together as a combined reading experience. There also were efforts to do some real-time fact-checking while the debates were underway.

Here’s a roundup from last week’s two-round Republican debate, which included a primetime showdown with 11 candidates and an earlier session with four others:

CNN: The debate host’s “Fact-Checking Team” checked 16 claims and awarded them rulings from “True” to “It’s Complicated” to “False.” The “It’s Complicated” rating was awarded to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who said Saudi Arabia was not accepting any Syrian refugees, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for statements he made regarding the Iran nuclear agreement.

NPR: The radio network fact-checked four claims as part of its new “Break it Down” segment — all involving statements by or in response to Donald Trump. The claims ranged from the real estate developer’s lobbying for casinos in Florida to the safety of vaccination. NPR didn’t rate the claims on a scale and instead explained the validity of comments.

New York Times: The Times examined 11 claims, including topics from Planned Parenthood to immigration policy. Like NPR, the Times did not use a rating system. They did, however, post their fact-checks during the debate as part of their live coverage. Many of their checks focused on Trump and Ben Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon whose outsider status had helped him climb up in the polls after the August debate on Fox News.

Politico: The Agenda, Politico’s policy channel, applied its Wrongometer to 12 claims, focusing on topics such as Trump’s bankruptcy and President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The group also scrutinized former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s remarks about Syria and a much-repeated Columbine myth. Despite its Wrongometer header, Politico’s fact-checkers do not use a rating system.

Vox: Rather than the relatively short, just-the-facts summations most other fact-checkers posted, Vox penned full-length commentaries on a handful of claims. Two featured statements by Fiorina (one about Planned Parenthood, linked here, and another on her time at HP), and one checked the candidates’ views on vaccinations. No rating was used.

AP: The news service fact-checked five claims, including statements from Fiorina on Planned Parenthood and the effects of Trump’s plan for an economic “uncoupling” from China. The AP did not use a system to rate these claims.

FiveThirtyEight: The site did its fact-checking in its debate live blog. FiveThirtyEight’s staff did not use any sort of rating system in its real-time reviews of the candidates’ statements, such as Trump’s claim about Fiorina’s track record as CEO of HP and President Obama’s likability overseas.

FactCheck.org: The fact-checkers based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center reviewed 14 claims from the debates. FactCheck.org did not rate the claims, which included former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s statements about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal to Trump’s comments on Wisconsin’s budget under Gov. Scott Walker.

PolitiFact: Run by the Tampa Bay Times, Washington-based PolitiFact fact-checked 15 debate claims so far, and awarded them rulings from “Pants on Fire” to “True.” The “Pants on Fire” rating went to Carson, who said that many pediatricians recognize the potential harm from too many vaccines. They also awarded a “True” rating to Fiorina’s statement regarding the potency of marijuana. While the debate was underway, the PolitiFact staff tapped their archive of previous calls to live blog the event.

The Washington Post Fact Checker: The Post’s two-person fact-checking team reviewed 18 claims in a roundup that included Trump’s denial that he’d ever gone bankrupt and New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie’s story about being named U.S. attorney by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001. The fact-checkers also posted versions of those items in the Post’s debate-night live blog. Following its usual practice for debates, the Post did not use its Pinocchio system to rate these claims. But since the debate, the Post added more Pinocchio-based fact-checks, including items on Fiorina’s criticisms of veterans’ health care (two Pinocchios) and Rubio’s comments on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities (one Pinocchio). Notably both of those items were suggested by Post readers.

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