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Fact Deserts

Fact deserts leave states vulnerable to election lies

Politicians in 29 states get little scrutiny for what they say, while local fact-checkers in other places struggle to keep pace with campaign misinformation.

By Belen Bricchi – November 16, 2022 | Print this article

Amid the political lies and misinformation that spread across the country throughout the 2022 midterm elections, statements by candidates in 29 states rarely faced the scrutiny of independent fact-checkers.

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Why? Because there weren’t any local fact-checkers.

Even in the places where diligent local media outlets regularly made active efforts to verify the accuracy of political claims, the volume of questionable statements in debates, speeches, campaign ads and social posts far outpaced the fact-checkers’ ability to set the record straight.

An initial survey by Reporters’ Lab at Duke University identified 46 locally focused fact-checking projects during this year’s campaign in 21 states and the District of Columbia. That count is little changed in the national election years since 2016, when an average of 47 fact-checking projects were active at the state and local level.

Active State/Local Fact-Checkers in the U.S., 2003-22

Active State/Local Fact-Checkers in the U.S., 2003-22

There’s also been lots of turnover among local fact-checking projects over time. At least 40 projects have come and gone since 2010. And fact-checking is not always front and center, even among the news outlets that devote considerable effort and time to this reporting.

While some fact-checkers consistently produce reports from election to election, many others are campaign-season one-offs. And the overwhelming emphasis on campaign claims can produce a fact-vacuum after the votes are counted — when elected officials, party operatives and others in the political process continue to make erroneous and misleading statements.

Fact-checks also can be hard for readers and viewers to find — sometimes appearing only in a broader scroll of state political news, with little effort to make this vital reporting stand out or to showcase it on a separate page. 

The Duke Reporters’ Lab conducted this initial survey to assess the state of local fact-checking during the 2022 midterm elections. The Lab first began tracking fact-checking projects across the United States and around the world in 2014 and maintains a global database and map of fact-checking projects.

While 29 states currently appear to have no fact-checking projects that regularly report on claims from politicians or social media at the local level, residents may encounter occasional one-off fact-checks from their state’s media outlets. 

Among the states lacking dedicated fact-checking projects are four that had hotly contested Senate or governor races this fall — New Hampshire, Kansas, Ohio and Oregon.

States with active local fact-checking projects, 2022

The states with the most robust fact-checking in terms of projects based there include Texas with five outlets; Iowa and North Carolina with four; and Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin with three each. 

Competition seems to generate additional fact-checking. States with active fact-checking projects tend to have at least two (14 states of the 21), while seven states and D.C. have a single locally focused project.

Local television stations are the most active fact-check producers. Of the outlets that generated fact-checks at the state and local level this year, more than half are local television stations. That’s a change over the past two decades, when newspapers and their websites were the primary outlets for local fact-checks.

Who Produces Local Fact-Checks?

Local fact-checking projects by medium: TV (24), newspaper (11), digital (9), radio (2)

Almost all local fact-checking projects are run by media outlets, while several are based at universities or nonprofit organizations. The university-related fact-checkers are Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; The Daily Iowan, the University of Iowa’s independent student newspaper; and West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media. All three are state affiliates of PolitiFact, the prolific national fact-checking organization based at the nonprofit Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

National news partnerships and media owners drive a significant amount of local fact-checking. Of the 46 projects, almost a quarter are affiliated with PolitiFact, while another half-dozen are among the most active local stations participating in the Verify fact-checking project by TV company Tegna. In addition, five Graham Media Group television stations use a unified Trust Index brand at the local level.

One of the newest efforts to encourage local fact-checking is Repustar’s Gigafact, a non-profit project that partnered with three newsrooms to counter misinformation during the midterms. The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, The Nevada Independent and Wisconsin Watch produced “fact briefs,” which are short, timely reports that answer yes or no questions, such as “Is Nevada’s violent crime rate higher than the national average?

Nearly 40 percent of the fact-checkers in the Lab’s count got their start since 2020, including 11 projects in that year alone. In contrast, the oldest fact-checker, WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, began producing its Reality Check segments almost two decades ago, in 2004. It’s among 12 fact-checkers that have been active for 10 years or more.

Another new initiative launched in April to increase Spanish language fact-checking at the local level in the U.S. — but with the help of two prominent international fact-checking organizations. 

Factchequeado, a partnership between Maldita.es of Spain and Chequeado in Argentina, has built a network of 27 allies, including 19 local news outlets in the U.S. through which they share fact-checks and media literacy content. Currently, the majority of Factchequeado fact-checks are produced at the national level by its own staff. Through its U.S. partnerships, Factchequeado aims to train Hispanic journalists to produce original fact-checks in Spanish at the local level.

The Reporters’ Lab conducted this survey with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which also has helped fund the Lab’s work on automated fact-checking. The Lab intends to follow up its initial assessment of the local fact-checking landscape with a post-election report that will dive into some of the challenges facing journalists trying to do this vital work. Our follow-up report will explore the content of local fact-checkers’ work in 2022, including data on whom they fact-checked and their approaches to rating claims. We will interview local reporters, producers and editors about public and political feedback and their editorial processes and methodologies. We also intend to examine why some local fact-checking initiatives are short-lived election-year efforts while others have carried on consistently for many years.

Here’s how we decide which fact-checkers to include in the Reporters’ Lab database. The Lab continually collects new information about the fact-checkers it identifies, such as when they launched and how long they last. If you know of a fact-checking project that has been missed, please contact Mark Stencel and Erica Ryan at the Reporters’ Lab.

Joel Luther of the Reporters’ Lab contributed to this report.

Appendix: Local Fact-Checking Projects

Arizona

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting (Gigafact) | Phoenix
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by an independent, nonprofit newsroom in Phoenix funded by individual donors, foundations, fee-for-service revenue and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

PolitiFact Arizona | Phoenix
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is PolitiFact’s local affiliate in Arizona. PolitiFact previously worked in Arizona with KNXV-TV (ABC15), ABC’s local affiliate in Phoenix, as part of partnership with the station’s owner, Scripps TV Station Group. (KNXV-TV had previously produced its own “Truth Test” segments.) PolitiFact’s national staff maintained the site starting with the 2018 midterm election cycle until the fact-checking organization partnered with ASU in 2022.

California

PolitiFact California | Sacramento
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at Capital Public Radio.

Sacramento Bee Fact Check | Sacramento
Fact-checks by Sacramento Bee reporters appear in its Capitol Alert section, especially in election years. Began as an “Ad Watch” feature focused on political advertising.

Colorado

9News Truth Test | Denver
NBC’s local TV affiliate in Denver has long done political fact-checking, particularly during elections. In addition, the Tegna-owned station also actively contributes to the Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations (https://www.9news.com/verify). 9News relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

CBS4 Reality Check | Denver
Election-year fact-checks from Denver’s local, CBS-owned commercial TV affiliate.

District of Columbia

WUSA9 Verify | Washington
WUSA9 is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Washington-area’s CBS affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

Florida

News4Jax Trust Index | Jacksonville
Fact-checking by the news team at WJXT-TV (News4Jax), an independent commercial TV station in Jacksonville, Florida. News4Jax is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

News 6 Trust Index | Orlando
Fact-checking by the news team at WKMG-TV (News 6), the CBS affiliate in Orlando, Florida. News 6 is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg
PolitiFact’s reporting on the state is produced in affiliation with the Tampa Bay Times. The newspaper’s bureau in Washington, D.C., was the fact-checking service’s original home before it was folded into the Poynter Institute — a non-profit media training center in St. Petersburg, Florida, that also owns the Times and its commercial publishing company. From 2010 to 2017, the Miami Herald was also a PolitiFact Florida reporting and distribution partner.

Georgia

11 Alive Verify | Atlanta
WXIA is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Atlanta-area’s NBC affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

Illinois

PolitiFact Illinois | Chicago
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters and researchers from the Better Government Association, a nonprofit watchdog organization founded in 1923 that focuses on investigative journalism. PolitiFact’s previous news partner in the state was Reboot Illinois, a for-profit digital news service.

Iowa

Gazette Fact Checker | Cedar Rapids
Fact-checks by reporters at The Cedar Rapids Gazette. The newspaper previously worked on its fact-checks in collaboration with KCRG-TV, a local TV station the Gazette owned until 2015.

KCCI’s Get the Facts | Des Moines
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election cycles by reporters at the Des Moines, Iowa, CBS affiliate, a commercial station owned by Hearst Television.

KCRG-TV’s “I9 Fact Checker” | Cedar Rapids
Occasional fact-checks presented by commercial station KCRG-TV’s “I9 Investigation” team. The local ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids was previously owned by the area’s local newspaper, The Cedar Rapids Gazette. The two news organizations worked together on fact-checks from 2014 to 2018.

PolitiFact Iowa | Iowa City
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at The Daily Iowan, the independent student newspaper at the University of Iowa. PolitiFact’s previous state partner in Iowa was the Des Moines Register.

Maine

Bangor Daily News Ad Watch | Bangor
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election season by staffers at the Bangor daily newspaper.

Portland Press Herald | Portland
Fact-checks of campaign ads during election cycles by staffers at the daily newspaper in Portland, Maine.

Michigan

Bridge Michigan | Detroit
An ongoing reporting project published mainly in election years by Bridge Magazine, an online journal published by the non-profit Center for Michigan. Originally called The Truth Squad, the project began as a standalone site before it merged with the center and its magazine in 2012. The Bridge’s fact-checkers also have collaborated with public media’s Michigan Radio.

Local 4 Trust Index | Detroit
Fact-checking by the news team at WDIV-TV (Local 4), the NBC affiliate for Detroit, Michigan. Local 4 is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Michigan | Detroit
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper previously did fact-checking on its own during the 2014 midterm elections.

Minnesota

5 Eyewitness News Truth Test | St. Paul
Election season fact-checking by the local ABC affiliate’s political reporter.

CBS Minnesota Reality Check | Minneapolis
Fact-checking by the news staff at the local CBS affiliate in Minneapolis.

Missouri

KY3 Fact Finders | Springfield
Fact-checks by an anchor/reporter for the NBC affiliate in Springfield, Missouri. Focuses on rumors and questions from viewers.

News 4 Fact Check | St. Louis
Election season fact-checks by reporters at CBS’s local affiliate in St. Louis.

Nevada

Reno Gazette-Journal Fact Checker | Reno
Fact-checks by RGJ’s local government reporter and engagement director. The position is supported by donations and grants.

The Nevada Independent (Gigafact) | Las Vegas
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by a nonprofit news website in Las Vegas funded by corporate donations, memberships, foundation grants and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

New Mexico

4 Investigates Fact Check | Albuquerque
Occasional fact-checks by the investigative news team at KOB-TV (KOB4), a commercial TV station owned by Hubbard Broadcasting Company that is NBC’s local affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A reporter conducts the fact-checks with the help of a political scientist from the University of New Mexico.

New York

News10NBC Fact Check | Rochester
Fact-checks by an anchor/reporter at the Rochester, New York, NBC affiliate, that focus on rumors and questions from viewers.

PolitiFact New York | Buffalo
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Buffalo News.

North Carolina

CBS 17 Truth Tracker and Digging Deeper | Raleigh-Goldsboro
Fact-checks by a data reporter from the Raleigh-area’s local CBS affiliate — a commercial TV station owned by Nexstar Media Group. Televised versions of the “Digging Deeper” segments are supplemented with source material on the station’s website, with political “Truth Tracker” reports appearing on its election news page.

PolitiFact North Carolina | Raleigh
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters at WRAL-TV, a privately owned commercial station that is NBC’s local affiliate in the Raleigh-Durham area. The News & Observer, a McClatchy-owned newspaper in Raleigh, was PolitiFact’s original local news partner in the state from 2016 to 2019.

The News & Observer’s Fact-Checking Project | Raleigh
Fact-checks by the reporting staff of The News & Observer, the McClatchy owned newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina. It freely distributes its fact-checking to other media in the state. The N&O previously did fact-checking as PolitiFact’s state partner from 2016 to 2019.

WCNC Verify | Charlotte
WCNC is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Charlotte-area’s NBC affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

Oklahoma

The Frontier fact checks | Tulsa
Fact-checking by reporters from this non-profit news site based in Tulsa. The fact-checks appear in the form of thematic roundups posted with the site’s other news stories. The Frontiers’ work is also used by other Oklahoma media. The Frontier Media Group Inc. operates the site with support from foundations, corporate supporters and individual donors.

Pennsylvania

News 8 “Ad Watch” | Lancaster
Ad Watch segments appear during election campaigns in televised newscasts and on the politics page of this local, commercially supported TV station. Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, WGAL-TV is owned by Hearst Television and is the local NBC affiliate for the Susquehanna Valley region, including the state capital in Harrisburg.

Texas

KHOU11 Verify | Houston
KHOU is among the most active contributors in Tegna’s Verify initiative — a companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project that involves a mix of local stories and national reporting shared across more than 60 stations. The Houston-area’s CBS affiliate relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers.

KPRC Trust Index | Houston
Fact-checking by the news team at KPRC-TV, the NBC affiliate for Houston, Texas. KPRC is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose local TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

KSAT Trust Index | San Antonio
Fact-checking by the news team at KSAT-TV, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, Texas. KSAT is owned by the Graham Media Group, a commercial media company whose regional TV stations launched their “Trust Index” reporting during the 2020 U.S. elections with help and training from Fathm, a media lab and international consulting group.

PolitiFact Texas | Austin, Houston, San Antonio
Affiliate of PolitiFact, with contributions from its three newspaper partners in the state, Austin American Statesman, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.

WFAA’s Verify Road Trip | Dallas
WFAA-TV’s contribution to Tegna’s companywide fact-checking and explanatory journalism project is its “Verify Road Trip” segments. For these stories, the Dallas-area ABC affiliate enlists viewers to be “guest reporters” who join the news team to find answers to their questions. The station relies on funding from advertising and local carriage fees from cable, satellite and digital TV service providers. Verify Road Trip also has a YouTube page.

Virginia

PolitiFact Virginia | Richmond
Staffed by reporters from the news team at WCVE-FM in the Richmond/Petersburg area, where the station is part of a cluster of regional public broadcasters. WCVE revived PolitiFact’s presence in the commonwealth after a nearly two-year hiatus. (PolitiFact’s original local news partner, the Richmond Times Dispatch, operated the Virginia site from 2010 to 2016.)

West Virginia

PolitiFact West Virginia | Morgantown
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by student reporters at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media.

Wisconsin

News 3 Reality Check | Madison
Video fact-checking segments by News 3 team on Wisconsin politics and TV ads, especially during election season.

PolitiFact Wisconsin | Milwaukee
Affiliate of PolitiFact, staffed by reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin Watch (Gigafact) | Madison
Fact-checking for Repustar’s Gigafact Project by a nonprofit news outlet in Wisconsin funded by grants from foundations, individual and corporate donations and other sources. Repustar is a privately-funded benefit corporation based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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At Tech & Check, some new ideas to automate fact-checking

Journalists and technologists met at Duke to dream up new ways that technology can help fact-checkers.

By Bill Adair – April 4, 2016 | Print this article

Last week, journalists and technologists gathered at Duke to dream up new ways that automation could help fact-checking.

The first Tech & Check conference, sponsored by the Duke Reporters’ Lab and Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, brought together about 50 journalists, students and computer scientists. The goal was to showcase existing projects and inspire new ones.

Tech and Check photo
At Tech & Check, groups of students, journalists and technologists dreamed up new ideas to automate fact-checking.

The participants included representatives of Google, IBM, NBC News, PolitiFact, Full Fact, FactCheck.org and the WRAL-TV. From the academic side, we had faculty and Ph.D students from Duke, the University of North Carolina, University of Texas-Arlington, Indiana University and the University of Michigan.

The first day featured presentations about existing projects that automate some aspect of fact-checking; the second day, attendees formed groups to conceive new projects.

The presentations showcased a wide variety of tools and research projects. Will Moy of the British site Full Fact did a demo of his claim monitoring tool that tracks the frequency of talking points, showing how often politicians said the phrase over time. Naeemul Hassan of the University of Texas at Arlington showed ClaimBuster, a project I’ve worked on, that can ingest huge amounts of text and identify factual claims that journalists might want to check.

IBM’s Ben Fletcher showed one of the company’s new projects known as Watson Angles, a tool that extracts information from Web articles and distills it into a summary that includes key players and a timeline of events. Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, a researcher at Indiana University, showed a project that uses Wikipedia to fact-check claims.

On the second day, we focused on the future. The attendees broke into groups to come up with new ideas for research. The groups had 75 minutes to create three ideas for tools or further research. The projects showed the many ways that automation can help fact-checking.

One promising idea was dubbed “Parrot Score,” a website that could build on the approach that Full Fact is exploring for claim monitoring. It would track the frequency of claims and then calculate a score for politicians who use canned phrases more often. Tyler Dukes, a data journalist from WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., said Parrot Score could be a browser extension that showed the origin of a claim and then tracked it through the political ecosystem.

Despite the focus on the digital future of journalism, we used Sharpies and a lot of Post-It notes.
Despite the focus on the digital future of journalism, we used Sharpies and a lot of Post-It notes.

Two teams proposed variations of a “Check This First” button that would allow people to verify the accuracy of a URL before they post it on Facebook or in a chat. One team dubbed it “ChatBot.” Clicking it would bring up information that would help users determine if the article was reliable.

Another team was assigned to focus on ways to improve public trust in fact-checkers. The team came up with several interesting ideas, including more transparency about the collective ratings for individual writers and editors as well as a game app that would simulate the process that journalists use to fact-check a claim. The app could improve trust by giving people an opportunity to form their own conclusions as well as demonstrating the difficult work that fact-checkers do.

Another team, which was focused on fact-checker tools, came up with some interesting ideas for tools. One would automatically detect when the journalists were examining a claim they had checked before.  Another tool would be something of a “sentence finisher” that, when a journalist began typing something such as “The unemployment rate last month…” would finish the sentence with the correct number.

The conference left me quite optimistic about the potential for more collaboration between computer scientists and fact-checkers. Things that never seemed possible, such as checking claims against the massive Wikipedia database, are increasingly doable. And many technologists are interested in doing research and creating products to help fact-checking.

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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.”
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A Viewer’s Guide to the N.C. Senate Debates

A preview of the upcoming NC Senate debate between Senator Kay Hagan and Speaker Thom Tillis

By Kyra Noonan – October 7, 2014 | Print this article

Political debates aren’t scripted, but the candidates usually come armed with some familiar talking points.

To help you sort out the truth in the talking points in this week’s debates for the U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina, the Duke Reporters’ Lab has compiled a viewer’s guide from fact-checking done in the past year by WRAL-TV, PolitiFact, the Washington Post FactChecker, FactCheck.org and McClatchy.

The debates are being held tonight and Thursday, with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis tonight and Libertarian Sean Haugh joining them Thursday.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will moderate tonight’s one-hour debate, which starts at 7 p.m. on TV and radio stations throughout the state. It will be streamed live at http://abcnews.go.com/live. On Thursday, the debate will also be held at 7 p.m. and broadcast on TV stations around the state.

Below are some of the lines and subjects you might hear, with links to the fact-checks. We’ve also posted a full list of all the fact-checks in the race so you can browse and search them.

ISIS/Terrorism

In the past few weeks, the candidates have attacked each other about the rise of the terrorist group known variously as ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State. Hagan has said Tillis has dodged questions about how he’d respond to the group, while Tillis has said Hagan is out of touch on the issue because she missed so many meetings of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In one Tillis ad, the narrator says, “In January, President Obama refers to the Islamic State as a ‘JV team.’ Days later the Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on new global threats. Sen. Kay Hagan? Absent. In fact, Hagan’s missed half the Armed Services Committee hearings this year.”

PolitiFact checked Hagan’s attendance and found that Hagan had attended nine of 22 public meetings. It was not possible to determine if she attended the closed hearings, so PolitiFact rated Tillis’ claim Mostly True.

Education

The biggest state issue in the campaign has been education, with Hagan and teacher groups attacking Tillis about teacher pay, while Tillis has claimed that he’s boosted education funding.

A TV ad from Women Vote, an arm of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports Democratic womenwho favor of abortion rights, said that Tillis “cut almost $500 million from education, causing crowded classrooms and forcing teachers to pay out-of-pocket for school supplies, while Tillis protected tax breaks for yachts and jets.”

PolitiFact checked the claim about the $500 million education cut and rated it Half True. The Washington Post’s FactChecker gave the claim a rating of “2 Pinocchios” and said that EMILY’s List “exaggerates the extent and impact of reductions in state funding for education last year – while ignoring the fact that the education budget is being bolstered this year”.

Obamacare/Health care

Denying CoverageOne of the largest issues both nationally and in the North Carolina Senate Race has been Obamacare. Tillis has claimed there would be a loss of jobs due to the Affordable Care Act, while Hagan and pro-Democratic groups have said that Tillis supports a plan which would make it difficult to obtain health care.

An ad by Patriot Majority USA, a pro-Democratic social welfare group, said in an ad that Tillis “sides with health insurance companies. He’d let them deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and raise rates for women needing mammograms. Tillis supports a plan that would end Medicare as we know it and force seniors to spend up to $1,700 more for prescriptions. Thom Tillis, he’s with the special interests, hurting North Carolina families.”

PolitiFact checked the claim that tillis would allow health insurance companies to “deny coverage for preexisting conditions” and rated it Mostly True. WRAL Fact Check gave this claim a “provisional yellow light”, as Tillis has yet to “fully articulate” his position on health care.

As for the claim that Tillis supports Paul Ryan’s plan that would “end Medicare as we know it”, PolitiFact rated it Mostly False on its Truth-O-Meter. PolitiFact said that “while Tillis has acknowledged supporting aspects of Ryan’s budget plan, he hasn’t specifically said whether or not he supports the original Medicare provision that would have made significant and mandatory changes to the program.”

Lost JobsIn response to Hagan’s support of Obamacare, Tillis has repeated a Republican talking point in an ad that the “Congressional Budget Office estimates 2 million lost jobs due to Obamacare.”

Fact-checkers have found that to be wrong. The Washington Post Fact Checker reviewed the report by the CBO and found that the “loss of jobs” was not stated, and could not have been given a numeric value, earning the claim a rating of “Three Pinocchios”. FactCheck.org also checked the claim and found that while “it has been a popular Republican talking point, it’s innacurate”. The CBO said more than 2 million people will “decide not to work, or will decide to work less, due to the law.”

Taxes

To portray Tillis as out of touch with ordinary North Carolina voters, liberal groups have made a fuss about tax breaks for yachts and “private jets.”

The Senate Majority PAC ran an ad against Tillis that said, ”Speaker Tillis gave tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations, even kept breaks for private yachts. He raised taxes on 80 percent of North Carolina.”

The Washington Post FactChecker reviewed the claim and gave it 3 Pinocchios finding that, “35 percent of the people appear to face a tax increase, including some of the wealthiest people in the state–not 80 percent, all at the bottom.”WRAL Fact Check checked the claim and gave it a “red light”. Politifact rated the claim by the Senate Majority PAC as “False”. And FactCheck, org writes that “…the ads’ central claim — that Tillis passed a whopping tax increase that hit 80 percent of North Carolinians” — is wrong.'”

A similar claim that said Tillis “gives tax breaks to yacht and jet owners” earned a False from PolitiFact, which said the group suggests Tillis created the tax breaks, but the law had been around for 23 years and Tillis just left it unchanged.

Hagan’s voting record

As the general election nears, candidates have tried to position themselves as moderates who can appeal to voters from both parties, with Hagan claiming that she is “the most moderate senator in the nation.”

WRAL Fact Check found this claim to be true backed by a National Journal report, and gave it a “Green Light”. McClatchy said, “”In February, the National Journal did rank her as the Senate’s ‘most moderate’ member’” but noted that “critics argue that the rankings are subjective, determined by the votes the Journal chooses to analyze.”

Tillis, meanwhile, has countered that in 2013, “Hagan voted with Obama 96 percent of the time.”

McClatchy found Tillis’ statement to be true and wrote “In 2013, the most recent year analyzed, Hagan voted in line with Obama’s preference 96 percent of the time.” WRAL gave this claim a “green light.”

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