These may be the best of times and the worst of times for the cause of fact-based political discourse. By almost any measure, the 2012 presidential race is shaping up to be the most scrutinized electoral contest in American history, with every candidate’s every utterance vetted by droves of Twitterati, traditional news outlets, non-profits dedicated to objectivity, partisan media critics, and opposing campaigns themselves.
At a time of ever-accelerating news cycles, however, it’s increasingly difficult for subsequent clarifications and corrections to keep up with distortions and misinformation, as voters have typically moved on to the next story. And so, out-of-context quotes such as President Obama’s aside about Americans being (or not being) lazy and Mitt Romney’s love of firing people (or insurance companies) still have a great deal of staying power.
Against this backdrop, New America invites you to consider the interplay of these trends at a launch event for three papers that explore the history of journalistic fact-checking, the social science that explains its impact on the process and public attitudes, and the current fact-policing ecosystem.