“Baloney Meter”

Canadian Press fact-checkers find politicians full of baloney

The wire service uses the first sausage-based rating system to fact-check politicians from No Baloney to Full of Baloney.

By Shaker Samman – April 29, 2015 | Print this article

While many fact-checkers around the world rate the accuracy of statements on a true-to-false scale, the team at the Canadian Press rates them by their value in meat.

The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is the world’s only sausage-based rating system, a lighthearted scale that goes from No Baloney (true) to Full of Baloney (false). The scale is inspired by the old saying about someone telling a lie.

“It’s kind of a throwback,” said Canadian Press Ottawa Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield, but the ratings don’t mean the work is frivolous. The Canadian Press fact-checks explore important topics and are backed by thorough research.

A little baloney (from Canadian Press)
“A little baloney” on the Baloney Meter means “the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required.”

The Baloney Meter can be “silly, but the piece itself is the furthest thing from being silly,” Scoffield said.

Scoffield launched the fact-checking service last spring after months of deliberation. The fact-checks started just in time for Ontario’s general election last June.

The provincial race was something of a practice round for the Canadian federal election this fall. Scoffield said she plans to increase the number of fact-checks as the election nears.

“There’s enough baloney out there that we could ramp up,” she said.

Currently, most Baloney Meter fact-checks examine statements by  officials in the federal government, but Scoffield said the focus will shift to political parties during the election.

Unlike most fact-checking efforts, the Baloney Meter has no dedicated staff or website. The checks are done by reporters for the wire service and the content is sent to subscribing news organizations for them to use in print and online. While readers can’t directly search for every meter ranking at a centralized location, the broad reach of the wire service gives the fact-checks wide exposure.

The biggest challenge for the Canadian fact-checkers has been the difficulty getting public data.

“This government is not known for being open,” Scoffield said. “It places a limitation on us for what we can actually fact check. We choose our topics accordingly.”

A lot of baloney (from Canadian Press)
“A lot of baloney” on the Baloney Meter means the statement “is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth.”

When fact-checkers determine there is inadequate information, they use Baloney Meter’s “Some baloney” rating. Scoffield said the Baloney Meter has earned a good reputation in the Canadian government. She said that politicians like the attention to the substance of the policy rather than the theatrics surrounding it.

“Even if they [politicians] don’t come out looking great, they appreciate that we’re talking about the substance of it,” Scoffield said.

With that kind of impact comes a great deal of responsibility. Scoffield said she knows that even the slightest slip up could lead to criticism.

“You have to do it well, or you lose your credibility,” Scoffield said. “We absolutely can’t take sides. We have to deal strictly with the facts.”

Back to top

From ‘Baloney’ to ‘Screaming Lies’: the extreme ratings of the world’s fact-checkers

Our 2015 census of fact-checkers reveals the odd names they use for the most ridiculous falsehoods.

By Claire Ballentine – February 5, 2015 | Print this article

FactCheckEU calls them “Insane Whoppers.” The Voice of San Diego uses “Huckster Propaganda.” Honolulu Civil Beat refers to them as “Screaming Lies.”

From Rome to Hawaii and everywhere in between, the growth of political fact-checking has spawned new rating systems that use catchy names for the most ridiculous falsehoods.

While conducting our census of fact-checking sites around the world, we encountered some amusing ratings. Here is a sampling:

  • Canada’s Baloney Meter measures the accuracy of politicians’ statements based of how much “baloney” they contain. This ranges from “No Baloney” (the statement is completely accurate) to “Full of Baloney” (completely inaccurate).
  • FactCheckEU, which rates statements by politicians in Europe, uses a rating system that includes “Rather Daft” and “Insane Whopper.”
  • The Washington Post Fact Checker, written by reporter Glenn Kessler, utilizes the classic tale of Pinocchio to rate the claims made by politicians, political candidates and diplomats. A rating of one Pinocchio indicates some shading of the facts, while two Pinocchios means there were significant omissions or exaggerations. A rating of four Pinocchios simply means  “whoppers.” The French site Les Pinocchios uses a similar scale.
  • In Australia, ABC Fact Check uses a wide range of labels that are often tailored to the specific fact-check. They include “Exaggerated,” “Far-fetched,” “Cherrypicking” and “More to the Story.”
  • PolitiFact, the fact-checking venture of the Tampa Bay Times, uses the Truth-O-Meter, which rates statements from “True” to “Pants on Fire” (a rating reserved for the most ridiculous falsehoods).
  • The Honolulu Civil Beat rates the most outrageous statements as “Screaming Lies.”

    From The Hound in Mexico
    A false rating from The Hound in Mexico
  • Mexico’s new site The Hound rates statements from “Verdadero” (true) to “Ridiculo” (ridiculous), accompanied by images of dogs wearing detective hats. Uruguay’s UYCheck uses a similar scale. Argentina’s Chequeado also uses a “Verdadero” to “Falso” scale, plus ratings for “Exagerado” (exaggerated) and “Enganoso” (deceitful/misleading).
  • In California, the local website Voice of San Diego uses a system modeled after PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter. But instead of “Pants on Fire,” it uses “Huckster Propaganda.”
  • Denver’s NBC 9 Truth Test gives verdicts such as “Needs Context” and “Deceptive.”
  • In California, the Sacramento Bee’s Ad Watch uses a scale from “True” to “Outright Lie.”
  • Instead of words, WRAL in Raleigh uses traffic lights. Green is “go ahead, run with it”; red means “stop right there.”
  • Italy’s Pagella Politica labels its most far-fetched statements as “Panzana Pazzesca,” which loosely translates as “crazy fib” or “insane whopper.”
  • Australia’s Crikey Get Fact site named its fact-checking meter the Fib-O-Matic. Ratings range from true to “Rubbish.”
Back to top