How we make the call
Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:
The Michigan Truth Squad has helped keep state political campaigns honest through scrupulous fact checking.
With the 2014 election season heating up this summer, attacks on candidates are sure to increase through an ever-expanding universe of social media outlets and an ever-narrowing focus on individual voters. As you surely have noticed, advertising in high-profile races by wealthy outside organizations has already saturated much of the state, more than five months before the November elections (See Peters, Gary and Land, Terri Lynn).
Even as political strategies and attacks grow more sophisticated, Truth Squad is simplifying its watchdog approach. Starting today, Truth Squad is streamlining the standards we use to assess the accuracy of messaging in state political races. The changes include:
- Narrowing the categories of calls. Under our past system, a Truth Squad call went from a Flagrant Foul (the worst), to a Regular Foul, Technical Foul, Warning and No Foul. Today, we drop the Technical Foul, as it’s too often confused with a Flagrant Foul among political junkies who are also basketball junkies.
- Tightening fact-checking descriptions so that, for instance, outright whoppers are more reliably assigned as Flagrant Fouls, with subsequent categories reflecting descending degrees of obfuscation and spin.
- Recognizing the increasingly outsized role third-party organizations play in political campaigns. The old Truth Squad standards spoke in terms of ads or statements by public officials. The new system acknowledges a larger, more fluid political ecosystem.
You can see the new, streamlined categories below.
As always, we welcome your feedback. We also urge you to send tips on political messaging of all stripes that Truth Squad should address in the 2014 Michigan political season. We do our best when we are receiving important leads and information from Bridge readers.
A false statement about a candidate’s position or a fact involving policy. It's one thing to point out differences between records. It's another for a candidate or third-party group to present false information or inaccurately portray a candidate’s political record.
A statement that distorts a candidate’s record or a fact involving policy, or which omits a fact that is essential to understanding a candidate’s position.
A statement that may be generally truthful, but lacks context and could easily mislead or be misconstrued.
A statement, however strident, that is based on accurate facts.