|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The program is promoting an arrangement with the Web site PolitiFact.com whereby its editors apply its “Truth-O-Meter” — true, half true, false, “pants on fire!” — to the administration officials and lawmakers who are interviewed.
The fact checking, which started Sunday, stands in stark contrast to the he-said, she-said nature of most television chatfests, even though PolitiFact’s work takes place well after the facts and possible falsehoods are first uttered on TV. Both the Web site and ABC said that the checking is just an experiment, but it is already drawing attention online as a small measure of accountability for politicians and television interviewers.
Jake Tapper, the interim anchor of “This Week,” informed viewers of the fact checking at the end of the program on Sunday. “I’m supposed to be the first line of defense,” he said in an interview here at the Newseum, where the program is produced. “But this is an acknowledgment that immediate fact checking is often not as easy as it sounds.”
“In a perfect world it would be like ‘Pop-Up Video’ on VH1,” Mr. Tapper said. “Senator so-and-so says the sky is red. Woop! The sky is blue. But generally speaking, the things that are worth fact checking are rarely that starkly, patently false.” He also noted that the research takes time. So he recruited Bill Adair, the editor of PolitiFact, whom he first met in 2007 at a forum about the rise of media fact checking. A project of The St. Petersburg Times, PolitiFact won a Pulitzer Prize last year for national reporting. PolitiFact says it exists to “help you find the truth in politics.”
In a telephone interview on Sunday Mr. Adair said: “The media in general has shied away from fact checking to a large extent because of fears that we’d be called biased, and also because I think it’s hard journalism.
“It’s a lot easier to give the on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand kind of journalism and leave it to readers to sort it out. But that isn’t good enough these days. The information age has made things so chaotic, I think it’s our obligation in the mainstream media to help people sort out what’s true and what’s not.”
Labels: hack journalism