The Facts of (Political) Life

Delve Into ’12 has an election event coming up we think Newt Gingrich will appreciate: On Tuesday, February 28, a group of journalists, social scientists and professional fact-checkers will explore the trend of misinformation diffusion on the campaign trail – and the journalistic fact-checking that attempts to counter it.
 
Last week, the New York Times’ Caucus blog reports, one of Gingrich’s campaign lawyers wrote a cease-and-desist letter to Georgia television stations, warning he’d sue if they aired attack commercials that claim Gingrich “co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi that would have given $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China’s brutal one-child policy.”
 
The assertion in the ad, which was created by a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, is false according to the fact-checking site PolitiFact (the site’s editor, Bill Adair, will be at next week’s event).  PolitiFact rated the claim “Pants on Fire” on its “Truth-O-Meter,” the highest level of dishonesty. Gingrich, a former history professor, seems to be a proponent of media-based fact-checking: He denigrated one of Mitt Romney’s attack ads earlier this year by pointing out that it earned “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog.
 
Next Tuesday’s event also marks the launch of three papers that investigate the history of fact-checking in journalism, how the spread of misinformation affects public attitudes, and the ecology of the current lie-monitoring system.

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