How Does PolitiFact Fact Check? By Tweeting People

Derek Hunter Contributor
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The Pulitzer Prize winning website PolitiFact has made quite a name for itself in the fact-checking business. Operated by the Tampa Bay Times, the website is cited regularly by media outlets across the country as an authority on what is and is not true. But how do they go about fact-checking claims they investigate?

PolitiFact routinely embeds links in its stories to supporting materials, but how does it reach out to an author of a column it is fact-checking? Turns out it’s not by phone or email, it’s Twitter.

Louis Jacobson, PolitiFact’s deputy editor, wrote a piece “fact-checking” a column by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, who cited National Review’s Kevin Williamson. The crux of the column was about Obamacare’s embrace of alternative medicine. The content of the column is irrelevant, what matters is this line in Jacobson’s fact-check:

Neither Williamson nor Goldberg returned inquiries for this fact-check.

This appears to have caught both writers off guard, unaware of Jacobson’s attempt. So, being curious, not only as to how their columns could be declared “half-true,” but how they both missed his attempted contact, they inquired via Twitter.

Jacobson replied:

Goldberg answered:

Williamson was much more, um, direct:

Here is Jacobson’s original tweet:

Fellow tweeters started to pile on and have fun at how Politifact “fact-checks”:

As of this publishing Jacobson has not replied to any of this. No attempt to reach Williamson, Goldberg or Jacobson was made for this piece.