Yesterday NYU Professor Jay Rosen, PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair, and FactCheck.org Director Brooks Jackson were all interviewed on California radio station KPFA’s Letters to Washington. Host Mitch Jesserich led a interesting discussion between the three, starting with Professor Rosen and his explanation of how his idea came about and his analysis of the current state of the Sunday shows:
An argument about common facts in which the parties and their representatives can take divergent views on those facts is one thing, but an argument where people don’t even agree on facts and what is true in the first place is a completely different thing.
Professor Rosen said he believed the goal of the Sunday shows was to both “take the temperature of Washington” and attempt to start the week by making news with statements made by guests, but that the format of the shows has not adjusted to an increasingly hyper-partisan Washington and that the hosts “tend to show a chronic lack of imagination in responding to shifts in the political game itself.”
Regarding Meet The Press host David Gregory’s statement that there was no need to have a “formal arrangement” for fact checking the show’s guests, Rosen said:
My sense is that David Gregory believes that he himself is a fact checker and if somebody tries to pull anything shady on his show he lets us know right away because he’s an expert interviewer.
Rosen believes Mr. Gregory seems to expect that viewers and pundits from the left and right will later argue publicly about the statements made on air and that kind of post-broadcast attention will work fine by itself.
What he’s really saying is “There aren’t any facts to check after I’ve done my job and all there really is is the clash of opinion” and that’s a very bizarre position for a journalist to take.
Interesting bit of reading from PBS’s Media Shift blog back in 2008 regarding the (then) sudden proliferation of fact check websites.. Also gives a good overview of the various players in each org.
Political Fact-Check Sites Proliferate, But Can They Break Through the Muck? (Mark Glaser @ Mediashift)