Fact checking politicians gets results

Oct 18, 2013
Fact checking politicians gets results
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New research indicates that American politicians are affected by the practice of fact-checking, thereby reducing the risk of misinformation and strengthening democratic accountability.

Fact-checkers such as PolitiFact and Factcheck.org scrutinise in the US by examining the public statements given to and reported by news organisations.

This practice is born out of concern that traditional media rarely evaluates the accuracy of the politicians statements, resulting in political figures being frequently allowed to make misleading comments in the press without challenge.

Social scientists, Professor Jason Reifler from the University of Exeter and Professor Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College, USA conducted research on the effects of fact-checkers on candidates and legislators at lower levels of government. This target group receive relatively little scrutiny and are sensitive to potential threats to re-election. The possibility that fact-checking might help deter politicians from making inaccurate claims that would attract the attention of fact-checkers was tested during the 2012 campaign.

Research was carried out by evaluating the effects of reminding state legislators about the electoral and reputational threat posed by fact-checking. The study compared the behaviour of a group of state legislators who were sent warning letters from fact-checking with a comparable control group of legislators.

Professor Reifler said:"The results suggest that state legislators who are reminded of the electoral and reputational threat from fact-checking do change their behaviour. They are also less likely to receive a negative PolitiFact rating or have the accuracy of their statements questioned publically. These findings suggest that fact-checking can play an important an important role in proving political discourse and increasing democratic accountability."

Explore further: Social media a 'double-edged sword' for politicians

More information: www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_effects_of_fact_checking_threat

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User comments : 6

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BishopBalderdash
1 / 5 (7) Oct 18, 2013
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2013
And yet Republican Americans continue to vote for perpetual and congenital Liars
Captain Stumpy
1.8 / 5 (15) Oct 19, 2013
if they are politicians, they are liars, period.

doesn't matter WHAT party...

and the voters still put them in...
Squirrel
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 19, 2013
Dog bit man type of research--you would hardly expect anything different. Politicians care about their reputation and get a letter warning that they are in the sights of factcheckers. Any surprise they turn down making false statements? You do not make science by adding the word "behavior" to trivial findings: you make it by finding what is unexpected--what about those politicians (there was a group effect with individual exceptions) that in spite of receiving such letters did not change or became worse in spite of the warning--man bit dog type of research.
verkle
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 19, 2013
Unfortunately a lot of the "fact checking" that I have seen in the news is so biased, almost worst than the politicians. I have yet to see neutral "fact checking".
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (15) Oct 19, 2013
"The results suggest that state legislators who are reminded of the electoral and reputational threat from fact-checking do change their behaviour."

Another example of how smaller govt is more responsive. Note that the study was of STATE legislators.

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