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Media Policy Initiative

An In-Depth Look at Fact-Checking

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.   

The Media Policy Program has produced three policy briefs that look at the history of fact checking in campaigns, the use of fact checking in the 2012 campaign, and research findings on fact checking from social science. The role of fact checking in public discourse has also been the subject of a special Delve into '12 event at New America titled, "The Facts of (Political) Life."

The Role of Fact-checking

How can fact-checking have the biggest impact in fostering a more reasoned debate over important public issues? Should it aim mainly to educate the public, to change political behavior, or to make reporting less timid—or all three?