This is John Podesta, former Clinton Chief of Staff, on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Tuesday night. The key part of his quote that is of most interest to me is that it’s not enough to just have FactCheck.org keeping track of things. Campaigns need to push back against false statements.
This is a point I have made elsewhere and there is evidence to support it. I really like the fact check organizations and have an appreciation for what they do. But often the correcting of mis/dis-information does not have the intended effect of improving political knowledge.
At the very least, I think Podesta is correct that those fact checkers alone are not enough to give voters an accurate picture of the world. In the last week both campaigns have accused one another of lying in their ads. The Romney camp accused the Obama camp of lying in the ad with the worker whose wife died. The Obama camp accused the Romney camp of lying in their welfare ad.
Just as bad as the deception is the brouhaha that follows that only ends up making it almost impossible to even correct the misstatements. A debate about health care turns into a process story about who is lying and how they’re doing it. And while people are doing the work of actual fact checking public attention has already shifted to the next lie.