How we choose claims to fact-check

Posted November 18, 2019 1:48 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2019 2:17 p.m. EST

Each day, PolitiFact journalists look for statements to fact-check.

Each day, PolitiFact journalists look for statements to fact-check. We read transcripts, speeches, news stories, press releases, and campaign brochures. We watch TV and scan social media. Readers send us suggestions via email to politifactnc@wral.com; we often fact-check statements submitted by readers. Because we can't feasibly check all claims, we select the most newsworthy and significant ones.

In deciding which statements to check, we consider these questions:

• Is the statement rooted in a fact that is verifiable? We don’t check opinions, and we recognize that in the world of speechmaking and political rhetoric, there is license for hyperbole.

• Does the statement seem misleading or sound wrong?

• Is the statement significant? We avoid minor "gotchas" on claims that are obviously a slip of the tongue.

• Is the statement likely to be passed on and repeated by others?

• Would a typical person hear or read the statement and wonder: Is that true?

We select statements about topics that are in the news. Without keeping count, we try to select facts to check from both Democrats and Republicans. At the same time, we more often fact-check the party that holds power or people who repeatedly make attention-getting or misleading statements.

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