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31. März 2008, 23:25 Uhr, Geschrieben von Miriam Meckel

fact check your candidate

Do politicians lie? Yes, from time to time they do. That’s what we all know. Hillary Clinton made it easy to disprove her creative narrative of getting into sniper fire in Bosnia in March 1996. At that time the war was over journalists quickly asserted.But often it’s difficult to prove a lie as such. Factcheck.org tries to do so and provides transparency for the election campaigns the candidates are currently running in the USA. They do it by monitoring the factual accuracy of what is said by main political players in the U.S. to reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics. Factcheck.org is part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and primarily funded by the Annenberg Foundation.

To be fair and taking into account that one can not be sure about the origin of and the motivation for the way politicians address the public factcheck.org does not call it lying but “misleading”. That’s a nice way to put it keeping in mind that the techniques of publicly telling something else but the truth become ever more sophisticated.

One example: In a TV ad produced by the Obama campaign from January 2008 about his health care plan it is said: “The Obama plan saves $2.500 for a typical family”. For this quote the Washington Post is referred to as source. Interestingly enough this actually happened: The Washington Post quoted the Obama campaign in an article and the Obama campaign quoted this quote again as one of the Washington Post. A perfect example of self-serving political communication.

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30 Reaktionen

  1. 1. April 2008, 1:43 Uhr, von Kata
    01

    Politics as a virtual reality…

    It’s all too much about being elected – telling the truth won’t get you there.
    No one wants to hear that there won’t be a job for everyone, or that there will have to be a tax rise, for example.
    Even if people deep inside know they are being lied to, they still would rather be lulled by false expectations than stare truth directly in the eye.
    If a (maybe fictional) politician would stand up and tell people the truth, they would pelt him with rotten eggs and not vote for him or her.
    So if that fictional honest politician wants to be elected, he has to lie. If he doe not lie, he will lose – and a better liar will win.
    That’s the paradoxon of politics…
    put too easy, I know, but…

    And another thought – maybe in a system like the one in the US politicians are in fact driven to lie, to hide facts.
    If your every move is watched, every little mistake in your past uprooted to prove that you are not worthy to lead the nation you will naturally get very careful about what you say. Maybe you start by omitting things, glossing them over a bit – and before you know it you are telling idiotic stories about yourself landing under sniper fire…
    And then the same people who would hang you high for admitting to taking drugs in college start howling about lying politicians…

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  2. 1. April 2008, 5:54 Uhr, von Walter
    02

    By a tool like factcheck there are equal chances for everyone. If every side uses it, there is equality of knowledge of truth and untruth.
    But by observing the factcheck side I wonder: Is this a new way of political influence by the pretext of truth?
    Politics like media are a dispositive of power too. Especially on a meta level.

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  3. 1. April 2008, 8:04 Uhr, von Fabian
    03

    Interesting phenomenon. It has quite a little bit of: Fake it till you make it …

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  4. 1. April 2008, 10:25 Uhr, von birgit
    04

    In Germany probably the mostly used form of lying in politics is “lying by omission” – if you only give partial answers you will never be wrong.
    That´s what we can observe in most TV discussions.
    But perhaps they don´t know it better…:-)

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  5. 1. April 2008, 10:27 Uhr, von Janna
    05

    …reminds me to the title from an old Manic Street Preacher’s Album: This is my truth, tell me yours…

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  6. 1. April 2008, 15:16 Uhr, von Hedda
    06

    @ Janna:
    I had to think of a dialogue from the movie “Something´s gotta give”

    Harry: I didn´t lie, I just told you a facet of the truth!

    Erica: The truth doesn´t have facets, Harry!

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  7. 1. April 2008, 16:54 Uhr, von joy08
    07

    Politicians do not lie nevertheless, them say only evenly the half truths, the relevant details only omit them. ;-)

    The better a politician in the public to sell itself can dazzle, the more he humans can, the more successfully is he nevertheless (unfortunately).

    In America is this also not and only. Barack Obama is even a rising, an goal-oriented, a charismatic, and a dynamic politician, which have a face and polarize can, a sympathy carrier.
    Which it can reach politically that is located in the stars.
    Are times strained, who makes a running., it can become only better than with G.W. Bush.

    I hope nevertheless much!

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  8. 1. April 2008, 16:57 Uhr, von Angela
    08

    I visited the website Factcheck and read „Our Mission“. I never heard from a website like that in Europe. We need perhaps such a site in Europe, in Germany, I think. In the politician business there are mechanisms, whose are accepted from the most politicians. We know enough lies from our politicians. Citizens need more transparency. Further I think, that reporting often is political too. The owners from the companies can use their influence. Under the headword media manipulation there are more informations. Who ones the publishing houses and the tv-companies. Mostly not the journalists. And if they have a financial participation, this participation is in relation to the work often low.
    If the consumer is able to check the informations, the play with him will be reduced.

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  9. 1. April 2008, 17:10 Uhr, von Cate
    09

    The example of Obama and the Washington Post could also be an example for Spencer-Brown’s self reference. ;o) The frame within the frame…
    Ok, I just tried out the site. Nice thing that. I found a factual comparison between civil union and gay marriage. But, to be honest, I knew all of this before… Anyways, maybe some did not and so I absolutely appreciate this project. Cries out for a german version! ;o)

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  10. 1. April 2008, 18:16 Uhr, von Angela
    010

    @Cate, I did not check, what you have been looking for. But thank you for this information. I did not know about it. So, thanks. (Funny comment “today”, Cate) I really don’t cry for a German vision with such a content. The idea seems to be ok.

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  11. 1. April 2008, 18:53 Uhr, von Cate
    011

    Angela? I found a comparison between civil union and gay marriage at the site, which is an important thing to do, as all democratic candidates are pro civil union, but against gay marriage (except Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel). And they are trying to make people believe that there is no big difference. The article on factckeck shows in a factual way, that there are many differences, that are more more than just unimportant formalities. Read here.

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  12. 1. April 2008, 19:43 Uhr, von Angela
    012

    @Cate, I know the differences and I know, how important it is, to sensitize people, who are not informed. And I realize, that people, who have for example a Lebenspartnerschaft in Germany are not really accepted with it. There are too many disadvantages for them. The “system? has to be reformed, the thinking has to be changed.

    (I admit that my thinking changed over the last 14 years extremely. If this one woman did not confront me with that theme 14 years ago, I would perhaps not changed in this way. In this context I can say, that most of the women I know admit freely, that there is a kind of bisexuality existing. If the science would do more in the area bisexuality (I think 70% women are), it can help everyone. But in my opinion it is not opportune to classificate people in three types. Dieses Schubladensystem findet sich leider auch bei dem Link-Artikel.)

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  13. 1. April 2008, 21:59 Uhr, von Walter
    013

    ‘the techniques of publicly’- this is pure irony…
    @cate and Angela: a remembrance of yesterday. Hillary Clinton did not come in dancing, but Ellen de Generes came out- what everybody knew. It is one way to check by provocation. Truth as an attack.

    On Georges Spencer Brown and politics: Politicians use the ‘unmarked space’, particularly Barack Obama. He doesn’t lie, but he creates an atmosphere of the unspoken. Hope, wishes, ideals, that anyone has, but everyone in a different way.
    It is very interesting observing him crossing the marked space to the unmarked one in his speach. People often react with applause. I think this is a part of his enthusiastic acceptance.

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  14. 1. April 2008, 22:10 Uhr, von Walter
    014

    @ Angela and Cate: Beside the work of Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler Nancy Chodorow has an interesting approach to identity and sexuality. Manuel Castells refers on it.

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  15. 1. April 2008, 22:39 Uhr, von Walter
    015

    Physics and truth:
    ‘One has the impression that the modern physics is based on assumptions, that resemble the smile of a cat, who is not at all there, somehow.’
    Albert Einstein

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  16. 2. April 2008, 7:26 Uhr, von Anna
    016

    @Walter: exactely. “Unmarked space” means leaving space for interpretation. Not lying and saying something vague leads people to interpreting things in order to make “sense” out of the heard information and thus to gain “value”. Otherwise the intention to listen would be non-existing.

    This could also mean that we constantly fail to differentiate between a neutral and value free “what happened?” and “our interpretation” leading us back to the observer and the operator.

    Woke up this morning with a new Swiss hit song. It started out with:

    “I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.” ;)

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  17. 2. April 2008, 10:57 Uhr, von Walter
    017

    “I swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.?
    I heard there is someone who can repair lamps. I have some lamps that do not work.

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  18. 2. April 2008, 11:46 Uhr, von Bette
    018

    @Walter: Got a screw loose?

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  19. 2. April 2008, 11:49 Uhr, von Mesm
    019

    Everything is political and all politicians interpret the truth. Al other human beings do to, but in the case of politicians it is a vital part of the livelihood. To present their cause in the best possible light, so that they can be understood by their potential voters, and thereby get elected.

    Being a politician, on the level of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is both a cause and a job.

    And their job is to win battles. To do so, they have to have allies and that’s what makes it difficult. They can have their own opinion, but they have to adjust it, not only to the cause they are serving, but also to their allies, in order to get the support needed.

    The so-called “truth? can be presented in many ways. With facts it is different, even though they can be manipulated to. Watch a Michael Moore documentary and you can se how it’s done, of course in his case, it is also for purely entertaining reasons, but still it makes you think – if he can do anyone can do it.

    My point is that everyone has their reasons for presenting facts in a certain way, even the Annenberg Foundation that seams to be behind FactCheck and look to have a noble cause.

    http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htmlA/annenbergwa/annenbergwa.htm

    And them a couple of clips with regarding Michael Moores film “Sicko?, they are quite long, so if you don’t have 30 minutes, skip it, I just thought they were quite interesting…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpKoN40K7mA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR2U_SAWHdQ

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  20. 2. April 2008, 11:57 Uhr, von theresa
    020

    Not a screw loose – but having watched a pathetic talkshow on a regional channel. Whose blog is this anyway? ;)

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  21. 2. April 2008, 12:15 Uhr, von Janna
    021

    @Walter: man lernt halt nie aus, hab den podcast eben gesehen. Ganz großes Kino !

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  22. 2. April 2008, 13:52 Uhr, von Isabelle
    022

    @Theresa: Why pathetic?

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  23. 2. April 2008, 14:15 Uhr, von theresa
    023

    Putting things straight: pathetic is ambivalent, sorry. My intention was to convey that I found parts of the show too corny , e.g. some questions of ‘die fiesen sieben’.
    Nevertheless, Thadeusz’s show mostly pleases me.

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  24. 2. April 2008, 14:28 Uhr, von Cory
    024

    Again you lost the topic :-)

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  25. 2. April 2008, 14:35 Uhr, von Angela
    025

    (To wander from one topic to another makes fun. Sorry.)

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  26. 2. April 2008, 14:58 Uhr, von Isabelle
    026

    Once again off-topic sorry:

    Theresa, I thought so too. Corny discribes it really well. But Thadeusz is always asking questions like that, I think.

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  27. 2. April 2008, 15:16 Uhr, von Cory
    027

    Did anybody see Sandra Maischbergers Talk yesterday? Andrea Ypsilanti presented herself as a good example what truth means for a politician. Truth is not a stable status. Truth is kind of flexible depending on the cognition and on the enviroment. I think not only for politicians.

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  28. 2. April 2008, 15:52 Uhr, von Cory
    028

    I don`t mean lieing deliberately. That is objectionable, of course.

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  29. 2. April 2008, 18:35 Uhr, von Walter
    029

    ‘Got a screw loose?’
    – Rather not, Bette. If I shake it (the lamp), there is no sound. So I don’t think, I got a screw loose. But I am not an expert in lamps.

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  30. 2. April 2008, 20:55 Uhr, von Sophia
    030

    just to go with the trend for a moment and be off-topic:

    I’ll probably never look at a light switch the same way again ;-)

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