Weighing the impact of fact-checking during Election 2012
Brendan Nyhan mulls the impact of fact-checking during this election:
Can the media stop politicians from misleading the public? That’s the question on the minds of many journalists and commentators after Paul Ryan’s speech last night at the Republican National Convention, which continued the Romney campaign’s pattern of disingenuous and misleading attacks on President Obama. … The underlying problem with these analyses is the misguided conclusion that factchecking is a failure if it does not eliminate deception. From a scientific perspective, however, factchecking is effective if it reduces the prevalence of misleading claims relative to an otherwise identical world that lacks factchecking, which seems likely to be the case (though we lack direct evidence on this point).
Paul Waldman is nevertheless saddened that fact-checking “seems to be having zero impact on the Romney campaign’s behavior.” Meanwhile, a reader writes:
Don’t you find it odd that we now treat journalists and fact-checkers as separate creatures? When Wolf Blitzer suggests that the fact-checkers may take issue with aspects of Ryan’s speech, what does that make him? What does journalist even mean?
Via The Daily Dish.