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How Russian trolls exploited Parkland mass shooting on social media

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:06
Russian-linked social media accounts exploited the tragedy at a Parkland, Fla., high school to sow discord and deepen divisions in America. Russian bots and trolls pushed conspiracy theories about survivors and amplified Second Amendment messaging in an apparent effort to undermine gun control advocacy. While many Americans are familiar with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, perhaps less well known is Russia’s use of social media to destabilize American society. "Their playbook is to basically to pit Americans against each other," Jamie Fly, a senior fellow at the foreign policy think tank the German Marshall Fund previously told ... >>More
Categories: Politics

George Washington’s lessons and the future of political civility

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 07:25
Five years ago, we published an article inspired by a visit to the restored colonial city of Williamsburg, Va., where we discovered a gem of a book: George Washington’s Rules of Civility. Somewhat lightheartedly, we published "What Would George Do?" on President’s Day as a counterpoint to the incivility that had come to dominate his namesake city more than two centuries later. In today’s bitter political climate, we thought we’d revisit these rules to see how much better or worse things have gotten. The 110 rules of civility predated Washington’s presidency by more than four decades. They mostly came from ... >>More
Categories: Politics

How do we prevent school shootings?

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:28
How do we prevent school shootings? At least 17 people were killed in a Florida high school shooting on Valentine’s Day, the latest mass shooting in the United States. The events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., follow other high-profile school shootings, leading many to ask how such shootings can be prevented. The answers here are not simple -- or cheap. We found experts and research that addressed many different ideas, from gun control to threat assessment measures to metal detectors. We documented benefits and limitations with all of these ideas. Advocates for gun control say that ... >>More
Categories: Politics

The Russia investigation and Donald Trump: a timeline from on-the-record sources

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 13:29
U.S. law enforcement agencies and Congress are investigating links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, as part of a broader probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election. At least eight Trump associates had contacts with Russian government officials or business people during the campaign and presidential transition. To date, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has swept up four members of Trump’s campaign, including two who have agreed to work with Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal. As the investigation has unfolded, we’ve learned that some things the Trump team claimed never happened, actually did happen. Stories ... >>More
Categories: Politics

What we know about mass shootings

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:36
At least 17 people were killed in a Florida high school shooting on Valentine’s Day, the latest mass shooting in the United States. Students, a geography teacher, a football coach, and an athletic director are among the victims identified so far in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel identified the suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and ordered held without bond. Israel said the suspect was believed to have ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Timeline: Rob Porter, domestic abuse and the White House

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:23
The broad outlines of allegations of domestic abuse against former White House aide Rob Porter are clear. The Trump administration’s shifting explanation of how it dealt with this information is not. As the trusted staff secretary, Porter handled the flow of paperwork that came to President Donald Trump starting in January 2017. As part of the normal security clearance process, the FBI spoke to two of Porter’s ex-wives early during his background check. Both women have said they told investigators about physical abuse at Porter’s hands. The White House first defended Porter when those accounts became public in early February. ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Will millennials be the largest voting bloc in 2018, as Rock the Vote predicts?

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:36
Rock the Vote, a group that is focused on increasing young registered voters, says that the youth vote has reached a pivotal status. "Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting block," tweeted Rock the Vote Feb. 2. Rock the Vote calls itself a nonpartisan organization but champions some issues more associated with the left, including voting rights. We were curious if millenials will be the largest group of voters in 2018. We don’t generally rate predictions, so we aren’t putting Rock the Vote’s claim on the Truth-O-Meter. Here, we’ll summarize what ... >>More
Categories: Politics

PolitiFact gains nonprofit status with move to the Poynter Institute

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 10:00
The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists based in St. Petersburg, Fla., has acquired direct ownership of PolitiFact from the Tampa Bay Times, the organizations announced Monday. The fact-checking website was created in 2007 by the Times newspaper. The Times is owned by Poynter. The move will allow PolitiFact to function fully as a not-for-profit national news organization, putting it more squarely on footing with other nonprofit newsrooms like ProPublica and the Center for Public Integrity. Poynter already is home to the International Fact Checking Network, an organization that supports fact-checkers around the world. The transition by PolitiFact also ... >>More
Categories: Politics

The Principles of the Truth-O-Meter: PolitiFact’s methodology for independent fact-checking

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 10:00
Fact-checking journalism is the heart of PolitiFact. Our core principles are independence, transparency, fairness, thorough reporting and clear writing. The reason we publish is to give citizens the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy. Since our launch in 2007, we’ve received many questions about how we choose facts to check, how we stay nonpartisan, how we go about fact-checking and other topics. This document attempts to answer those questions and many more. How PolitiFact started Our ownership Our partner websites Our funding Our ethics policy for PolitiFact journalists How we choose claims to fact-check Our on-the-record sourcing ... >>More
Categories: Politics

In Context: John Kelly’s remarks on ‘lazy’ immigrants and DACA

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 11:57
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke to reporters on Feb. 6 about young immigrants eligible for the Obama-era deportation protection program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Kelly said that while 690,000 immigrants who signed up for the program are protected by DACA, President Donald Trump put forth a plan to benefit many more people — 1.8 million. To be eligible, people must meet educational requirements, have no felony convictions, and have arrived in the United States as children. Kelly said "some would say" that among reasons why more eligible immigrants didn’t sign up for DACA ... >>More
Categories: Politics

The age of cherry-picking

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:44
These days, it isn’t just that Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus. Increasingly, politicians on either side are cherry-picking evidence to support their version of reality. What is cherry-picking? It’s the tactic of harnessing an incomplete and unrepresentative set of evidence to misleadingly make a broader argument. These days, politicians use the tactic to appeal directly to their base while dropping the pretense that they are reaching out to anyone on the other side. Cherry-picking doesn’t necessarily have to be problematic: In a debate, no one expects politicians to provide both their own perspective and that of ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Fight erupts over GOP intel memo’s accuracy

Fri, 02/02/2018 - 10:37
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memorandum accusing the Justice Department and FBI of abusing their authority in the early stages of an investigation into collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Republican committee members believe the memo’s release will expose political bias surrounding law enforcement officials’ decision, in the throes of the 2016 presidential election, to obtain a wiretap on a former Trump campaign adviser. The memo's authors claim their findings "represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses" related to procedures the government must follow to get surveillance approval.   ... >>More
Categories: Politics

How quickly will the new tax law affect the economy?

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 09:44
The White House would love for the tax bill President Donald Trump signed into law in December to start affecting taxpayers and the economy at large as soon as possible. The day after his State of the Union address, Trump brought business people to the White House to discuss for the television cameras how they have already been impacted by the tax law. "These are people who have worked hard, they have businesses," Trump said. "In some cases, they're making tremendous percentage amounts more than they were going to before the plan." Several of the guests explained that their companies ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Donald Trump’s misleading claims about immigration in State of the Union address

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 16:20
President Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech focused on hardships he said immigrants impose on Americans, casting them as a threat to national security and economic prosperity. Trump criticized the diversity visa program, saying it lets in people without regard for "the safety of American people"; claimed boundless numbers of immigrants can come into the country; and said "open borders" have let in gang members and drugs. When immigrants arrive, they also become an economic challenge for low-earning Americans,Trump said. But many of Trump’s Jan. 30 claims were false or misleading. Here’s a recap of his claims, ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Who is Donald Trump’s State of the Union guest Ji Seong-ho, who defected from North Korea?

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 08:54
During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump told the story of Ji Seong-ho, who faced a painful life growing up in North Korea. Ji walked thousands of miles on crutches to defect to South Korea, where he became an advocate pursuing freedom for people from his homeland. Ji was a "witness to the ominous nature of this regime," Trump said, as Ji sat with First Lady Melania Trump during the speech. Ji raised his crutches when Trump spoke of him and his work on human rights. Trump used Ji’s story to highlight the threat of North Korea. ... >>More
Categories: Politics

Fact-checking Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 21:50
President Donald Trump offered a rosy assessment of American life in his first State of the Union address — but several of his points were factually flawed. "This is our new American moment," Trump said. "There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream." The economy took center stage in Trump’s speech, with mixed accuracy. Trump touted record lows for unemployment levels, middle class relief from the passage of a $1.5 trillion tax cut, and loyalty to his campaign promise to cut red tape. He also made exaggerated claims on ISIS and immigration. Trump’s statements cycled through ... >>More
Categories: Politics

PolitiFact previews Donald Trump's State of the Union address

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 07:21
President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, and we’ll be live fact-checking throughout the evening. Trump ran for office on revving up the economy, and we expect he’ll shine a big spotlight on the gains the country has seen on his watch. He’s already signaled that he’ll roll out a $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan during his speech. It’s hard to imagine he won’t spend time talking about the $1.5 trillion tax cut law and the spate of corporate announcements of wage hikes and expansions around that. Immigration, the military, health care and terrorism are ... >>More
Categories: Politics


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