FactCheck.org Is Useless

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When FactCheck.org came out a few years ago, I liked most of what they did. But in the last year, I simply don't even care what they say anymore, because so much of it so poorly done.

Take this recent example. The question is: "Did Obama change his back-to-school speech in response to pressure from conservatives?" The answer they give is: "One exercise in the accompanying lesson plan was reworded."

That's the wrong answer. The correct answer is, at the very least, "the White House claims the text was not substantively altered in response to any pressure." The lesson plan information is a footnote; it is not the answer to the question. FactCheck's Jess Henig gives nearly 500 words of response in the full answer, but almost half of those were about the lesson plan, which isn't the point. And four-fifths of what's left is explaining that "well, this happened under other Presidents too."

The only part of the response actually addressing the question is these 43 words, less than a tenth of the entire answer: White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told us that the speech itself had not been substantively changed: "The President's speech was always going to be about talking with students about the importance of working hard, staying in school and taking responsibility for their education."

Which, of course, implies that maybe it was changed, at least a little bit, in response to criticism. And yet Henig doesn't put that in the answer.

You can find examples like this almost every day. FactCheck just cannot be trusted as long as it puts out such careless junk. slashdot.org


I've posted a longish response here: http://thegumbys.blogspot.com/2009/09/re-factcheckorg-is-useless.html

I pretty much concur except to perhaps the degree to which factcheck.org has strayed from it's original utility.

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