Disclaimer: This is an article about politics, but bear with me for a second. I’m not promoting a party, or a political viewpoint, or anything like that. That’s not what this article is about. My sole purpose in writing this piece is to provide you, the reader, with an arsenal of resources with which you can adequately evaluate the statements you hear surrounding the 2012 Presidential Election.
Election season is in full swing, and so is the political rhetoric.
Where can one turn to find the truth amidst the of misrepresentation of information, lies of omission, and half-truths? Luckily, all you need is an internet connection to become a well-informed citizen, and if that’s not democracy at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.
1.) Politifact - Sorting the Truth Out of Politics:
Politifact is a website started by the Tampa Bay Times in order to ”fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups.” Political statements from both the national and state levels are researched and scrutinized.
The original statements are then posted, assigned a score on the Truth-O-Meter scale, which is coupled with a quick justification for the ranking. Updates are posted regularly, so if you’ve heard it recently, it’s probably been assigned a rating. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention they won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, so no need to fact check them.
2.) Washington Post Fact-Checker – The Truth Behind The Rhetoric:
This political blog run by Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post is a must-have resource for those of us that are skeptical of election-year rhetoric. Campaign statements, attack advertisements, and quotes all get the rundown from some of the most established fact-checkers inside the beltway. Their “Fact-Or-Fiction” game, where users can guess how many “Pinocchios” a statement deserves, is an oddly addicting activity that will surely make you second-guess how susceptible you are to spin.
Factcheck.org is a “nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics” run by the Annenburg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. TV advertisements, news, interviews, and debates all get the twice-over with a fine-tooth comb. They are then analyzed and supported with relevant statistics, quotes, and data. Responses are comprehensive, leaving no stone unturned, and we as citizens are better for it.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Brooks Jackson, both directors at the Annenberg Policy Center, published the book unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation, which highlights the different tricks people use to persuade and convince others, as well as tips to avoid being mentally highjacked.
4.) Ontheissues.org - Every Political Leader on Every Issue:
The name says it all. Seriously, if a politician has been involved in politics on a legitimate level, this website will tell you what their thoughts are on any given issue and how they’ve voted on it in the past. Don’t let the website design fool you – although it looks like it was made in 1998, there is a wealth of information to be found here. Combine this with any of the fact-checking resources listed above and you should be well-equipped to determine the veracity of any political statement.