As a research associate in the Office of Communications, I quickly learned some things about the nature of facts in politics. First, that fact-checking is in-depth work. My co-workers and I pored over speech draft after speech draft, methodically verifying that every individual factual statement in any of the president’s prepared remarks was backed up by reputable sources. We worked closely with the speechwriting and policy departments to ensure that each fact the president said represented his views in an accurate, verifiable way. If we couldn’t back it up, it had to go. We thought through the possible counterarguments that people from both sides of the aisle could make to rebut our statements, and we made sure we were on as solid ground as possible.
When I say we checked every fact, that’s not an exaggeration. Because we hunted down anything that could be debated as true or false, a page or two of remarks could take hours to comb through. Sometimes the job could feel like overkill (like when I spent half a day trying to verify the number of Bo and Sunny cookies served at the White House holiday parties). We even vetted each individual who was mentioned in remarks — even if they had been dead for a thousand years, and even if they were eighth-graders, which can really feel like overkill. But most of the time, the work of fact-checking felt like a necessary part of upholding the integrity of both President Obama and the office of the presidency as a whole.
Bessette/Pitney’s AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: DELIBERATION, DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP reviews the idea of "deliberative democracy." Building on the book, this blog offers insights, analysis, and facts about recent events.
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Friday, January 27, 2017
Back When the White House Checked Facts
Trump and his aides routinely lie to the public and do not bother to check their facts. Meredith Bohen writes at Vox:
Posted by Pitney at 11:40 AM
Labels: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, government, myths and misinformation, political science, politics, presidency, research