Ranking the Fact Checkers

RANKING THE FACT CHECKERS….I’m working on a debate fact checking post that’s ? how to put this? ? extremely long and probably a huge waste of time. But hey, it’s my time, right?

As part of this project, however, I’ve read five separate fact checking pieces, and I thought it might be worthwhile to tell you what I thought of each of them. Here’s how the fact checkers rank:

  • Excellent: the Washington Post. Their “debate referee,” an annotated transcript of the debate, is top notch, with tons of detail and multiple links for every claim. In addition, they ran a separate article summarizing the major inaccuracies.

  • Pretty Good: the LA Times and Factcheck.org. The LA Times article was detailed and well written, and Factcheck.org’s piece did a nice job of teasing out the facts and providing lots of good links.

  • OK: CNN. Their summary was less detailed than the others but still hit most of the high points. The writing was clear and concise.

  • Horrible: the New York Times. I’m not generally a Times basher, but David Rosenbaum’s piece was almost worthless, a toothless, meandering article that offered nothing but differing “interpretations” without really calling anybody on anything. Shockingly bad.

I continue to think that all the fact checking articles made too much of an effort to be evenhanded in the face of Bush’s clearly stronger reliance on deception to make his points. But that’s an issue for a different post.

And props to Liz Cox Barrett at The Campaign Desk, who noted the vast difference between the Times’ and the Post’s fact checking today. Her post reminded me to write about this.