Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

President Trump’s first State of the Union address is Tuesday night. Here’s how to prepare yourself, factually speaking

On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union address, and everyone wants you to come to their party. 

 

Whatever party you choose to attend or if you just curl up at home with the cat and a cocktail make sure you have your “second screen” with you. Journalists around the country will be fact-checking during and after the speech, and you’ll need your phone/tablet/laptop to keep track.

And keep this handy: A great guide to finding the facts during SOTU and in the aftermath from The Lamp and Circle, along with the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute.

Download and print: 10 easy steps to fact-checking a politician

Who’s fact-checking?

Here are just some of the organizations providing a factual analysis of the speech on Tuesday night and Wednesday:

NBC News. A blog from the NBC News politics team will contain real-time fact-checking. Go to NBCNews.com/SOTU beginning at 8 p.m.

Duke University Reporters’ Lab. Go to the app store now and download FactStream for a live-stream of fact checks from The Washington Post Fact-Checker, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. The Duke Tech & Check Cooperative — funded by Knight Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project and the Craig Newmark Foundation — will beta-test the app during SOTU, says Duke professor Bill Adair, the coop’s director. Poynter will have a review of the app’s performance on Wednesday. 

The TV News Archive will archive those fact checks in its collection of fact-checked television clips. And you can use the TV News Archive during SOTU to search, view and share clips of speeches and interviews from previously televised news programs. (The TV News Archive is part of the non-profit Internet Archive, probably best known for its Wayback Machine but an excellent resource for digitally archived audio, video, books, images and more.)

NPR will once again provide its live annotations of the speech. Reporters from the NPR Politics desk, as well as other NPR journalists and experts, will provide real-time fact-checking at NPR.org.

FactCheck.org will live-tweet its fact checks in addition to participating in the FactStream project. A blog post assessing the facts will be posted after the State of the Union address, says Eugene Kiely, director of the non-profit, non-partisan organization based at the University of Pennsylvania.  On Wednesday, they’ll post a video series of short, fact-checked clips from the speech to Facebook, Twitter and to the FactCheck.org site.  The videos will feature a statement by Trump, an assessment of its accuracy, and “corrective text,” said Kiely. (Here’s an example from the 2016 presidental debates.) 

The Associated Press will be posting fact checks on their new @APFactCheck account, and will publish a compilation of fact checks online and on the Associated Press app.

ABC News will fact-check online, on social media and on its app.

CBS News will fact check in real time on its live blog.

The New York Times will fact-check live on Tuesday night, with a fact-checking preview on Tuesday morning.

PolitiFact will fact-check live on Twitter along with its participation in FactStream. After the speech and Democratic response, PolitiFact also will do a Facebook Live review of Trump’s speech. On Wednesday morning, PolitFact staffers will appear on CNN and MSNBC to discuss their SOTU fact checks.

 

The Washington Post Fact Checker will add real-time fact-checking to the Post’s live SOTU blog, and will have a roundup and video after the speeches. During the speech, you can find previous fact-checks quickly using the Post’s Fact Checker database.

Univision will provide SOTU coverage in Spanish and English, along with live fact-checking by reporters and Univision News digital data team.

What’s getting fact-checked?

Presidents have a handful of topics they typically discuss during the State of the Union address. Here’s an excellent interactive feature from USAFacts that depicts the most popular SOTU words in history, by president and by party. Education is by far the most popular topic mentioned by presidents. And apparently no one really wants to talk about war.

The precise language of Trump’s speech haven’t been released, but political writers and policy experts have predictions about the topics he’ll mention. They include some talking points from Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week a speech that the New York Times fact-checker critiqued for misstatements and lack of context.

For quick reference during the speech, here are some of the likely topics along with a sampling of related fact-checks.

The economy: Two fact-checks on Donald Trump’s previous claims about the economy:  By Louis Jacobson, PolitiFact and Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times.

Stock market: Fact-checking Trump’s remarks on stock market rises. (By Lucinda Shen, Fortune)

National security: Is there a surge in violent crime? Or not? (By Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post)

Tax cuts: Democrats repeat a misleading talking point about tax cuts. (By Lori Robertson, FactCheck.org, in USA Today)

Infrastructure: Fact-checking Trump’s remarks after Amtrak crash. (By Calvin Woodward, the Associated Press)

The government shutdown: Fact-checking Trump’s claims that a shutdown will hurt the military. (By Benjy Sarlin, NBC News)

Top words from President Trump’s 2018 SOTU address

Trade: Fact-checking Trump’s business boasts. (By Robert Farley, FactCheck.org)

Foreign policy: Fact-checking Trump’s New York Times interview. (By NPR staff)

Immigration/DACA: FactCheck.org has an FAQ on the facts about DACA.  And see PolitiFact’s collection of fact-checks on immigration.

Climate: Fact-checking Trump’s claims about cold weather and climate change. (By PBS NewsHour)

Opioid epidemic: Trump said the opioid epidemic is unlike anything in American history. Is he right? (By Newsweek staff.)

Health care: Fact-checking Trump’s health care speech. (By Jon Greenberg and John Kruzel, PolitiFact.)

The Russia investigation: The Russia-NRA connection in the Trump campaign. (By Holmes Lybrand, The Weekly Standard.)

What else should I expect?

Prepare yourself; things could get complicated. Here are some odds and ends about SOTU you’ll want to know.

The Democratic response. After the president’s address, stick around for the other party’s response and more fact-checking. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) will deliver the Democrats’ official response. However, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) also is expected to give a response during a BET News special following SOTU.

Who’s attending: Roll Call has a look at who’s not attending as well as a list of  the guests attending with members of Congress. Several Democrats have said they’re bringing “dreamers” to protest the administration’s various immigration policies. Some Republicans are bringing guests they say have benefited from Trump’s tax overhaul.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will attend with U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Trump’s pick to head NASA. Nye has been critical of Trump’s statements on climate science, including this 2012 tweet:

Dress code: Some women in Congress will be wearing all black, in support of the #MeToo and Time’s Up efforts to call attention to sexual misconduct in the workplace.

What about the Dow? People are talking about what happened to the stock market just after Trump’s first address to Congress in February 2017: The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent. But experts aren’t expecting a grand stock performance this time, and here’s why.

How long is it? Will I actually understand it? Trump’s address is likely to be shorter and easier to comprehend, if it follows the historical trend. The record-holder for longest SOTU speech is Bill Clinton, with 9,190 words in 1995; in comparison, Trump’s address to Congress last year was 5,006 words. The average reading level of State of the Union addresses in recent history after 1900 is relatively low, according to tracking by this data from The Guardian.

Questions? Additions to this list? E-mail me and I’ll respond.

Need to Know newsletter

The smart way to start your day

Each morning we scour the web for fresh useful insights in our Need to Know newsletter. Sign up below.

Featured topics

Go deeper on…

Dive deep on everything we produce about these key topics.

Strategy Studies

The best practices for innovation within news organizations

This Strategy Study presents examples and insights about journalism innovation, offering actionable advice and methods to move your journalism and business forward.