Checking the fact-checkers in 2008: predicting political ad scrutiny and assessing consistency
Amazeen, Michelle A.
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Citation (published version)Michelle A. Amazeen. 2015. "Checking the Fact-Checkers in 2008: Predicting Political Ad Scrutiny and Assessing Consistency." Journal of Political Marketing, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp. 433 - 464.
Which types of political ads are most likely to draw criticism from fact-checkers? Are fact-checkers consistent in their evaluations of political ads? Examining general election television ads from the 2008 U.S. presidential race, and based upon the evaluations of FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and the Washington Post's Fact Checker, this study demonstrates it was the attack ads from candidates that were most likely to draw scrutiny from the fact-checkers. Most importantly, a high level of agreement between the fact-checkers indicates their success at selecting political claims that can be consistently evaluated. While political advertisers are increasingly using evidence to support their claims, what may be more critical in drawing evaluations from fact-checkers is the verifiability of a claim. The implications of consistent fact-checking on the public, political actors, journalism and democracy are discussed. With the revelation that fact-checking can be consistently practiced, localized efforts at fact-checking need encouragement, particularly as political TV ads increasingly drown out other potential sources of information for the public and increasingly are used in downballot races, local initiatives, referendums and judicial races.