Thursday, August 30, 2012

fact checking

I was talking with a friend recently about "non-biased, objective fact-checkers." My point I was trying to make to her was that in most journalistic circles, it appears that "non-biased" just means "centrist," but those are not the same thing. The facts are not always directly in between the Democratic and Republican parties.

"Objective," meanwhile, doesn't mean anything at all: nobody is objective and nobody can be objective, but everybody believes they are objective.

What I told her I prefer are wonky policy types who are more concerned with dealing with the evidence conscientiously than with being accused of being liberal or conservative. Perhaps that's just a fancy way of saying "non-biased, objective fact-checkers," but I feel like what Ezra Klein does is different than what Politifact or NBC News' in-house fact-checker does.

Here's a really interesting example of that from Ezra. Ezra attempts to make a circumspect post on the truths, lies, and misleading points in Paul Ryan's speech, but fails to find enough compelling true points to finish the post. In my opinion, most people who call themselves "fact-checkers" would have either added some questionable points to the "true" section to maintain "balance," or alternatively would have deleted the whole thing and just not said anything. Ezra posts anyway and shows his work, since his inability to complete such a post is a very important insight into Ryan's speech.

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