Thoughts on International Fact-checking Day

PolitiFact joined with other fact-checkers from around the world to observe International Fact-Checking Day on April 2. Here’s the column I wrote about why we need a day to celebrate fact-checking and how the International Fact-Checking Network came up with the idea. It starts:

With all the phony headlines and hoaxes floating around the Internet, it can feel like April Fool’s any day of the year.

At PolitiFact, we’re debunking more false claims than ever. It’s a sad trend that people will maliciously invent fictitious stories and then pass them off as real, hoping for clicks. That’s our definition of fake news.

The hoax stories tend to straddle the line between absurd and disturbing. READ MORE …

C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ and tracking President Barack Obama’s campaign promises

On C-SPAN, I recently talked about PolitiFact’s Obameter project, which tracks President Barack Obama’s campaign promises.

Fixing a broken roux for gumbo

The dreaded broken roux … It’s when something goes wrong in cooking gumbo, and instead of a luscious, uniform, thick roux, you end up with a separated sauce that seems to have tiny globules of flour floating around in oil. It’s totally gross, and it’s a classic broken roux. (Some would call it a separated roux.)

I used to have lots of problems with broken roux (roux’s?). I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong … I wondered if I was adding the water (some people add stock) at the wrong temperature. One article I read advised a lukewarm stock … I fiddled with that for awhile and couldn’t come up with anything like consistent results. Finally, I read somewhere that it was a myth that you should add EQUAL parts of fat and flour to make a roux. This advice said you should add more flour than fat, by anywhere from a third to a half more flour, to avoid the dreaded broken roux. I started doing this, and lo and behold, I haven’t had a broken roux since. Coincidence? Perhaps. There is art and mystery in the cooking of the gumbo.

Another important question: Is there a fix for a roux once its broken? I only found one fix for a separated roux, which is taking pre-made cold roux from “roux in a jar” (which I don’t normally use) and mixing it into the gumbo with the broken roux, and then bringing the whole thing to a boil for a few minutes. (I like Savoie’s Old Fashioned Dark Roux). I have a hunch this isn’t so much about fixing the broken roux and it is masking the broken roux. But we do what we must in such cases … And if you don’t have roux in a jar on hand, I have no other solution to offer. Sorry!

 

Fact-checking fake news on Facebook

PolitiFact recently announced it would join with other independent fact-checkers to fact-check fake news on Facebook. (Read PolitiFact’s announcement.) I talked about that initiative with Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

Unveiling ‘Lie of the Year’ on MTP Daily

PolitiFact unveiled its “Lie of the Year” for 2016 on MTP Daily with Chuck Todd. Read the story on the PolitiFact website.

Harry Potter guest blog on MarkHolan.org

I wrote a guest post for Mark Holan’s Irish-American Blog about the world of Harry Potter and a surprising connection to an Irish-American immigrant. I’ll send you over to Mark’s site to read the whole post, which is pegged to the new movie, “Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them.” READ MORE.

Scrolling on an iPhone causes motion sickness?

The scrolling on my iPhone Safari browser gives me motion sickness. It’s that same feeling I had as a child being carsick on long car rides. Even today I get queasy sometimes if I try to read in the car or if I sit on the D.C. metro going backwards. I’ve tried adjusting the motion settings on my phone to see if it would help, but it hasn’t. It’s something about scrolling and reading that is affecting me, because I don’t get the feeling at all on my Kindle, which turns pages rather than scrolling.

I’ve done some intensive searching on the Internet about this experience to see if anyone else has had it, and I’ve come up with nothing. I’m very interested in hearing about others’ experience or any studies of this phenomenon. My iPhone is a big part of my life and it’s not pleasant to feel ill while reading on it. If there’s a solution to this problem, I’d certainly like to find it.

PolitiFact on Vice

PolitiFact was recently featured on Vice News. The report looked at how we fact-check on debate nights.

C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ and fact-checking the 2016 presidential debates

I went on C-SPAN to discuss PolitiFact’s fact-checking of the 2016 presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

A fact-checker’s advice for debate moderators

I wrote this column for PolitiFact reflecting on what I’ve seen fact-checking debates since 2007.

Do you yell at the TV when you see an interviewer letting a politician get away with spinning the truth? I know I do. But let’s admit the reality: Questioning candidates on live TV is harder than it looks. And moderating a presidential debate is probably the hardest.

Just look at the typical criticism of debate moderators. They ask dumb questions. They ask inside-baseball questions. The questions are too tough. The questions are too soft. They don’t follow up. They flog a pointless line of questioning.

This will be my third time fact-checking presidential debates, and while criticizing the moderators is common, I’ve seen a few things that make a difference between good moderating and lousy moderating. MORE ...