Q and A with Lucas Graves, author of ‘Deciding What’s True’

Here’s a link to my interview with Lucas Graves, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and author of the book, Deciding What’s True: The Rise of Political Fact-Checking in American Journalism. We talked about how fact-checking works, fact-checking presidential debates and reform movements in journalism.

Holan: Let’s talk about the big question first. Why does fact-checking matter?

Graves: Fact-checking matters in a few different ways. The most important one for me is that it represents a new kind of commitment from journalists to try to pierce political rhetoric and hold politicians accountable. It’s a cultural shift in journalism. MORE …

C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’ and Fact-checking

I appeared recently on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss the 2016 election and how PolitiFact does its work.

Fact-checking TV ads in a post-truth election

The Internet Archive combined forces with fact-checkers like PolitiFact this year to collect, archive and fact-check television ads of the 2016 election cycle. Nancy Watzman of the Internet Archive and I joined together to write this column for USA Today about our insights on the project.

As sure as night follows day, we are in for a torrent of political ads in the next 14 weeks. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump already are running general-election spots, and Senate and House campaigns will generate their own deluge as the two parties battle for control of Congress. These ads are often the main point of communication between candidates and voters. Most of them are designed to catch people’s attention with simple and striking messages. And most of them have a tortured relationship with the truth — bending, stretching, or all-out contradicting the facts. MORE …

What do fact-checkers around the world have in common?

I wrote a column about the recent third annual Global Summit on Fact-checking in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Much of the discussion there focused on best practices for fact-checking.  My column explored five fundamental principles we all could share.

From Canada to Colombia, from Spain to South Africa, fact-checking is now spreading around the globe. In June, international fact-checkers gathered in Buenos Aires to compare notes on how we investigate claims, weigh evidence and publish our findings.

Those of us who gathered at the Global Summit on Fact-checking are a diverse lot. Some of us are journalists, as we are at PolitiFact. Others are researchers and writers who work for nonprofits. Still others consider themselves civic activists, agitating under repressive regimes to get truthful facts to the public.

While our identities are sometimes different, our work is usually the same: Credible, accurate information backed up with sources and evidence. MORE …

PolitiFact in Buenos Aires 


The PolitiFact team recently visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the third annual Global Summit on Fact-checking. I’ll be posting more on this soon, but in the meantime here is a photo of some of us with street art in the city. 

New Orleans-style carrot cake

My Louisiana grandmother would make a delicious carrot cake for our birthdays that I’ve come to think of as the quintessential New Orleans-style carrot cake. Its distinguishing features: 

  • No raisins;
  • Square cake;
  • Chopped pecans mixed into the cream cheese frosting.

The ingredients of the frosting are cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar and pecans. That’s it!

Here’s a photo of this cake, which is very dear to my heart. 

Mason jar salad

I’ve been on a mason jar salad kick and this is my best-looking one yet. Tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, ginger dressing, pasta, salmon and salad. 

‘What happened when fact-checkers left their desks to go to Iowa’

Here’s my op-ed for PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times, summing up PolitiFact’s 2016 visit to Iowa to cover the presidential candidates.

DES MOINES — The art and craft of political fact-checking is not much to look at, usually. We sit at desks and read transcripts. We watch politicians on TV. We read documents and reports. On lively days, we talk with national experts on the phone. Every now and then, we might have a heated conversation with a press secretary.

So when PolitiFact decided to send a small team to Iowa, I jumped at the chance: Fact-checkers unbound from their desks! READ MORE.

PolitiFact in Iowa

Our team went to Iowa recently to cover the caucuses; we snapped this selfie quickly on our way to a campaign rally. From left to right, it’s me, reporter Lauren Carroll and deputy editor Katie Sanders.

‘All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others.’

I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times. It starts:

Washington — I’m a political fact-checker, which is usually an automatic conversation starter at parties. These days, I get two questions repeatedly: “Is it worse than it’s ever been?” and “What’s up with Donald Trump?”

I’ve been fact-checking since 2007, when The Tampa Bay Times founded PolitiFact as a new way to cover elections. We don’t check absolutely everything a candidate says, but focus on what catches our eye as significant, newsworthy or potentially influential. Our ratings are also not intended to be statistically representative but to show trends over time.

Donald J. Trump’s record on truth and accuracy is astonishingly poor. READ MORE.