The Week in Fact-Checking: Don’t touch that badger

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The American Press Institute presents a roundup from the world of fact-checking, debunking and truth-telling — just in case you haven’t been paying as much attention as we do.

Quote of the week
“Rhetoric had a bad reputation long before Donald Trump kicked it into the dirt, though. Socrates complained about the sophists of ancient Greece who used flowery words instead of rational inquiry in order to gain influence.” – Lael Ewy, KMUW Radio, Wichita

Technology of fact-checkingInternet_Archive_logo_and_wordmark.svg
Think of this as Netflix for campaign advertising, except with no monthly fees. The Internet Archive next week will release its new Political TV Ad Archive, where you’ll find a free playlist of 2016 campaign ads and some important information for each: where it aired, who funded it, who fact-checked it and other downloadable metadata. Read the press release.  Read a review.

Fact-checking fail
Year after year, governors make dozens of claims in their “state of the state” addresses. Year after year, too many media organizations obediently publish the transcripts and stenograph their way through the reporting. There are exceptions: New Jersey, Kansas and Florida reporters, for instance, have fact-checked their governors’ speeches this month. For the rest, there’s still time to turn this fail into a win.

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Emily Thorson

Good fact-checkers on TV have a rule: If you’re fact-checking a false statement in a campaign ad, don’t replay the ad in your fact-check. (See’s excellent guidelines here.) It’s a rule that might help non-broadcast journalists and social media teams, too.  Emily Thorson, a Boston College political science professor who’s done research for API’s fact-checking project, explains why egregious lies and liars on the campaign trail should be treated like bees and small children. Read it. logoFact check of the week
During State of the Union addresses, while the rest of us are reading or making astute observations on Twitter, some fact-checking organizations around the country are working furiously through the night. Among the impressive efforts this week was the thorough, readable, unfussy fact-checking by Don’t miss the admirable list of resources at the end. Read it.

The fact-checking gold mine
Have some more coffee before you try to read this next sentence. The fake-news website People’s Cube is complaining that fact-checking site Snopes didn’t do enough fact-checking in its fact-check of the Cube’s fake news. It hurt their feelings. Read it.


Photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons

Fact-checking: Not just for politics
When you’re trying to predict the weather, don’t bother measuring the body-fat content of a badger. It won’t provide any facts and — warning — badgers recently won the “badass animal of the week” award.  A 4-H leader in Oregon fact-checks this and other common fables about weather prediction. Read it.

  1. Looking for more information on fact-checking? API will hold several workshops this year.