Fact-Checking for Everyone

PolitiFact's founder makes the case against letting false claims go unchecked.

In an essay for Poynter, PolitiFact founder Bill Adair lays out the reasons why fact-checking should extend beyond the borders of sites like PolitiFact whose whole raison d’être is fact-checking. “Noting the accuracy of a political claim should be as standard as including someone’s hometown or party affiliation,” he writes.

The most compelling reason we find for that is in a quote from Adair’s interview with Lucas Graves, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It’s difficult to dislodge a falsehood once it’s taken hold,” he told Adair. “If you can debunk the claim the moment it’s uttered, that’s much better.”

The added bonus effect, according to Graves, is (hopefully) discouraging politicians from returning over and over to their shaky claims.

If you need a reminder of what a largely unchecked reporting world that follows the [Name: Crazy quote] protocol looks like, here are some lists of conspiracy theories that have made it into the media discourse during the 2016 cycle.

Read Adair’s full essay here.