As the Nov. 6 general election rapidly approaches and as mud-slinging TV ads proliferate, prospective voters should memorize – and use daily – the following website: www.politifact.com
Now in its fifth year, Politifacts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning site that debunks the outrageous claims and distorted accusations made by both political parties. As political parties and their supporters spend billions of dollars on TV ads, the truth gets buried under the deluge of slick nonsense. That will be especially true this political season because of “Citizens United,” the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the flood gates to unrestrained contributions in funding these ads.
Unfortunately, too many Americans have become accustomed to thinking uncritically. Many believe in knee-jerk fashion whatever they hear or see on TV ads – not only for consumer products but for politicians who are “sold” as products. The best way to invigorate our democratic way of life would be to teach critical, analytical thinking in all schools, starting in kindergarten.
But until that time arrives, the best way to counter these preposterous ads, from both parties, is to consult the Politifacts website. The site is a wonderful compendium of what’s true and untrue in the world of politics. For instance, it has an “Obameter” that tracks the progress or lack of progress on about 500 promises made by Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. It has a similar promise-checker for Republican claims.
There is also on the website a “Truth-O-Meter” on which facts can be checked, with constant daily updates, on what politicians claim in their public appearances, their position papers and their TV and newspaper ads.
One recent example is that vicious tug-of-war the Romney and Obama camps have been fighting about who is cutting what from Medicare. The two sides are accusing each other of wanting to rob Medicare to the tune of $700-plus billion.
On a “60 Minutes” program, Romney said Obama robbed $716 million from Medicare to spend for his “Affordable Care Act.”
This is what the Politifacts “Truth-O-Meter” has to say about that charge:
“While the health-care law reduces the amount of future spending growth in Medicare, the law doesn’t actually cut Medicare. Savings come from reducing money that goes to private insurers who provide Medicare Advantage programs, among other things. The money wasn’t ‘robbed.’ We rated the (Romney) statement mostly false.”
Lest one think Politifacts is stacked against Republicans, think again. A Truth-O-Meter tallying of Obama’s statements and claims found that about 70 percent have been true, mostly true or half true. About 30 percent of them have been mostly false, false or outrageously false. The latter (“outrageously false) falls with Politifact’s worst indictment – the “Liar – Liar-Pants on Fire” category.
Politifacts, believe it or not, makes for entertaining reading. It is a breath of fresh air because its staff scrupulously researches every political claim and counter-claim, providing the results as a very convenient, instant-access clearing house for the enlightenment of us all.
These big-money-financed TV-ad hucksters are as unscrupulous as sleazy carnival barkers. It’s time to tune out those ads. Let’s enlighten ourselves before we go to the polls Nov. 6 to help decide the destiny of this nation. Let’s tune into Politifacts.
Again, the website is www.politifacts.com
Please check it out; you’ll be glad you did.