We're a hawk on the issues.

All Politicians Lie, Some Lie More Than Others

All politicians lie, this is a fact of life.

Data collected by Politifact has revealed this to be the truth, but it also shows that some politicians lie more than others.

1213-web-HOLAN-600

Of the major candidates currently running for President, Ben Carson and Donald Trump have lied the most, with a respective 84 percent and 76 percent liar ratings, while their truth ratings were 4 percent and 7 percent. Coming in at third was Ted Cruz with a liar rating of 66 percent and a truth rating of 22 percent.

For the Democrats, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a liar rating of 28 percent and truth ratings of 51 percent and 51 percent.

New York Times reports:

The president has the distinction of being the most fact-checked person by PolitiFact — by a wide margin, with a whopping 569 statements checked. We’ve rated nine of those Pants on Fire.

Even though we’re in the midst of a presidential campaign full of falsehoods and misstatements, I see cause for optimism. Some politicians have responded to fact-checking journalism by vettingtheir prepared comments more carefully and giving their campaign ads extra scrutiny.

More important, I see accurate information becoming more available and easier for voters to find. By that measure, things are pretty good.

Mr. Trump’s inaccurate statements, for example, have garnered masses of coverage. His claim that he saw “thousands of people” in New Jersey cheering the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, grabbed headlines but the stories were about the rebuttals.

When Ms. Fiorina mischaracterized a video about Planned Parenthood during an early debate, it was a significant part of the post-debate coverage, while Mrs. Clinton’s sometimes misleading statements about her email accounts have been generating close, in-depth scrutiny for most of 2015.

Today’s TV journalists — anchors like Chuck Todd, Jake Tapper and George Stephanopoulos — have picked up the torch of fact-checking and now grill candidates on issues of accuracy during live interviews. Most voters don’t think it’s biased to question people about whether their seemingly fact-based statements are accurate. Research published earlier this year by the American Press Institute showedthat more than eight in 10 Americans have a positive view of political fact-checking.

In fact, journalists regularly tell me their media organizations have started highlighting fact-checking in their reporting because so many people click on fact-checking stories after a debate or high-profile news event. Many readers now want fact-checking as part of traditional news stories as well; they will vocally complain toombudsmen and readers’ representatives when they see news stories repeating discredited factual claims.

That’s not to say that fact-checking is a cure-all. Partisan audiences will savage fact-checks that contradict their views, and that’s true of both the right and the left. But “truthiness” can’t survive indefinitely in a fact-free vacuum.

If Mr. Trump and his fans saw video of thousands of people cheering in New Jersey, why has no one brought it forward yet? Because it doesn’t exist.

Fact-checking’s methodology emphasizes the issue at hand and facts on the ground. Politicians can either make their case or they can’t. Candidates’ fans may complain about press bias, but my impression is that less partisan voters pay a lot of attention to these media moments, especially when elections are close and decided by a few percentage points. Trust and integrity are still crucial assets for a politician.

Contrary to the prophecies that truth in politics is doomed, I’m encouraged by the effect that fact-checking is having. When friends conclude despondently that the truth doesn’t matter, I remind them that people haven’t started voting yet. I don’t take current polls too seriously because data suggests that most people don’t settle on a candidate until much closer to casting their vote.

In the end, it’s the voters who will punish or reward candidates for what they’ve said on the campaign trail. I’m confident that Americans have the information they need to help them choose wisely.

Photo credit: Yellow Hammer News.

About the author