The past four-plus years have been a time of “alternative facts” and alternate realities; of lies masquerading as truth, and fiction being presented as fact. Being aware of, and using fact-checking resources has become more important than ever.
Journalists of fact-based news organizations have been vilified in a year like no other; for doing our jobs, checking our facts and telling the truth. The fact is — a rather large number of Americans don’t want to know the truth right now. But that puts fact-checking by all of us — news media and ordinary citizens — in a new light. In these turbulent times it is more important than ever to look for the truth about the “facts” being cited, and not traffic in rumors.
The problem starts right from the top
President Donald Trump has made thousands of false or misleading statements during his presidency, repeatedly telling supporters not to believe experts and news media’s reporting — that the truth is what he says it is.
According to The Washington Post, as of August, 2020, Trump had told some 23,000 lies and was still going. By October 16, 2020, The Washington Post’s ‘Fact Checker’ database had counted 25,653 false or misleading statements.
Some reporters who have made a habit of fact-checking the president said that “there are now too many lies to count.”
That this is unusual should go unsaid, but it can’t. Commentators and fact-checkers have described this departure from the truth as “unprecedented” in American politics, adding “the consistency of these falsehoods is a distinctive part of Trump’s business and political identity”.
Just the lies about the coronavirus known as COVID-19 are overwhelming. This article in The Atlantic documented dozens of president-originating falsehoods about the COVID-19 pandemic, from the claim that “it’s going to disappear — like a miracle,” to “it will disappear right after the election,” to injecting disinfectant into one’s veins would clear out the virus, to blaming Mexico for COVID-19 surges in the Southwest.
Trump is known to have made controversial statements, on the record, on air, and then denied that he said them. At first the news media obfuscated, calling his statements — misstatements, falsehoods, error of judgement. But by June 2019, many news organizations had started describing what was being said as what they were and are: lies.
The Washington Post said his frequent repetition of false claims amounts to a campaign based on disinformation. According to writer and journalist Nancy LeTourneau, “the debasing of veracity is a purposeful tactic”. Trump and his media surrogates may not even care if what is said is believed by the general population — they want their core audience to believe whatever he tells them.
The repetition of claims is a known and respected advertising and marketing strategy. In media terms, “reach and frequency” — how many people reached with an advertising message and how many times they hear the message — is a brand goal. This is admirable when one is selling French fries.
It is something else entirely when applied to lies such as: that Trump won the 2020 election, that there is a satanic cult of liberals abusing children from a pizza parlor in Washington DC, that Q has secret knowledge of a deep-state plot to destroy the world, or that the coronavirus is a hoax.
So how can news media and ordinary people source fact from fiction? By relying on fact checking sources.
In general, good fact checking services will write with neutral wording and provide unbiased sources to support their claims. So that our readers know that we are following fact-checking standards, here are some of the best fact-checking sources that Ark Valley Voice relies on:.
AP Fact Check
A favorite of Ark Valley Voice (The Colorado AP office and AVV are both members of the Colorado News Collaborative) the AP Fact check is an International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) fact checker from the Associated Press. AP Fact Check tends to focus on claims by political leaders and frequently fact check President Trump’s claims. The AP sources their fact checks with credible information.
Ark Valley Voice, also relies on FactCheck.org; a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. They are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters, with a mission to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor factual accuracy; reviewing what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Fact Check is similar to Politifact (see below) in their coverage and they provide excellent details.
This fact-checking website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics. PolitiFact is owned by the Poynter Institute and it also operates the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) that sets standards for fact checkers. Politifact is a signatory of the IFCN. One of the best source for political fact checking, it has won the Pulitzer Prize. On its own, the Poynter Institute, while not a true fact checking service, is a leader in distinguished journalism; known for credible and evidence based content. According to Media Bias Fact Check, “If Poynter reports it, you can count on it being true.”
Based in the UK according to Media Bias Fact Check “essentially, Full Fact is the UK’s Politifact”.
Media Bias Fact Check
Media Bias Fact Check strictly relies on signatories of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) for fact checking the sources it reviews. The IFCN sets a code of principles that must be followed in order to remain a part of the network.
AFP Fact Check
The AFP Fact Checker is a large international news agency that has locations around the globe. This is an IFCN fact checker from Agence France-Presse (AFP) based in France. This allows the AFP to cover diverse fact checks from many different countries. They frequently fact check fake photos and fake videos (which are rapidly increasing) as well. This is the best English-language fact checker for non-USA fact checks.
This is a fact checker and hoax/rumor debunker that uses the International Fact Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles as a guide for all fact checking. What separates Lead Stories from others is the use of a specific engine called the Trendolizer, which tracks story trends that allows them to quickly debunk fake news before it becomes viral. Those who use this source say they are often the first to debunk outrageous claims.
Science Feedback is an IFCN fact checker that consists of two separate websites, Climate Feedback, which reviews climate related claims and Health Feedback, which reviews health and medical claims. Each fact checker holds a Ph.D. and has recently published articles in top-tier, peer-reviewed science journals. This is by far the best fact checker for science related claims.
Reuters Fact Check
This is an IFCN fact checker from the UK-based Reuters. Reuters Fact Checks tends to focus on social media hoaxes and claims, however they also cover political statements. Reuters sources their fact checks with credible information.
Check Your Fact
Check your Fact is an IFCN fact checker owned by the Daily Caller. While the Daily Caller is not known as a reliable news organization, Check Your Fact operates independently of them and adheres to IFCN principles. It is one of very few right-leaning IFCN fact checkers. They primarily focus on hoaxes and political statements.
Fact Checker by The Washington Post
The Washington Post tends to a left-center bias and this is reflected in their fact checks. Their fact checks are excellent and sourced; however their bias is reflected in that it appears that they fact check right wing claims more than left. Otherwise The Washington Post is a good resource and one often referenced as a source by AVV.
Open Secrets is a nonpartisan, independent, nonprofit, run by the Center for Responsive Politics, which is the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. Open Secrets is by far the best source for discovering how much and where candidates get their money. They also track lobbying groups and whom they are funding.
Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan online political encyclopedia that covers American federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy. Ballotpedia’s stated goal is “to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government.”
Hey! Guess what? PolitiFact and Full Fact are not part of the same organization. Both have been recognized as verified signatories of the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles, but Full Fact is entirely distinct from PolitiFact. It uses an entirely different system for checking facts (no “Truth-O-Meter” or parallel rating system, for example).
It’s hard to see how this claim from your article could find justification in the facts.
“Politifact is a signatory of the IFCN. One of the best source for political fact checking, it has won the Pulitzer Prize. In the UK, this entity is known as Full Fact.”
Yes, in my earlier reply (one you might not publish if you’re typical of the modern journalist caught in an error) I wrote that “pumped” was missing from the video that supposedly backed your version of the quotation. I meant “pumping.” So I made a mistake. And that’s how one admits making a mistake.
Journalism is important, and it’s important to do it well. Please make corrections and do better.
Thank you for your coment. You are correct that Full Fact is not part of Politifact. But according to Media Bias FActcheck (https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/2020/04/12/the-10-best-fact-checking-websites-for-2020/ it is “essentially the UK’s Politifact”, which was not referenced correctly. It is not a source that AVV has yet used.
Yes, journalism is important and it is important to do it well. We apologize.
Your supposed quotation of President Trump recommending venous injection of disinfectant appears inauthentic.
Why do journalists commit these types of failures and expect to sustain public trust?
If it’s supposed to be a paraphrase then dump the quotation marks. Thanks.
Not only is there video of Trump saying exactly that, but I was watching the press conference where he said it: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Did+Trump+say+that+he+thought+injection+of+disinfectant+would+cure+COVID%3f&docid=608024952831675558&mid=D734AD9116817D4874C6D734AD9116817D4874C6&view=detail&FORM=VIRE
People on both sides of the political divide are far too eager to accept as gospel anything they see on the internet, as long as it reinforces whatever they already believe.
I see faked FB posts and faked tweets from both sides every day, and they are always presented as absolute fact, no matter how quickly and easily disproved the claims may be.
Personally, regardless of what it is alleging, I assume that anything claiming to be a Facebook post or a Twitter post is a lie, unless I am able to go to the source and see the original tweet or FB post for myself.
Even if it is a real Facebook post, most everything on Facebook is worthless garbage funneled into an echo-chamber algorithm that is designed to make people feel better about themselves, and should be ignored by anyone with an ounce of self-respect. Kill your Facebook. Seriously. Kill your Facebook, if you have the strength. Facebook is a garbage platform and right-wing radicalization site, and therefore is also an active participant in the destruction of American democracy, all because Facebook values profits more than truth.
Twitter posts can be faked in just a few minutes, but I want to assure everyone that this Tweet from Diaper Don is 100% real, and that you should all start sending me money immediately.