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Annenberg Center Aims To Fight Deceptive Viral Political Videos With Humor

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, November 18 2011

Political fact-checking during the presidential campaign season is about to get a whole lot more entertaining.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center is about to launch a new online political video fact-checking fusillade in the new year. While the initiative, dubbed Flackcheck.org, covers any kind of online political video, it's pretty clear that the presidential election will feature prominently.

The Center has a preview page where you can already view some of its hilarious handiwork. Instead of somber text-filled columns, staff from the center use humor and parody as they narrate the videos that the team judge to be the most egregious violations of the facts, or the most manipulative, over-the-top efforts to sway public opinion. The advantage of this technique is obvious: The videos are much more likely to go viral than the written word.

The most recent case in point that the center tackled: 60 Plus Association's video giving voice to the rhetoric of comparing the Obama administration's push for universal healthcare to Nazism.

The Center also plans on creating a regular online series called "Stinkweeds and Orchids" that critiques cable television's coverage of political ads and web videos.

Flackcheck.org is a separate effort from the Center's Factcheck.org, founded by Brooks Jackson.

As POLITICO's Ben Smith recently noted, the various fact-checking efforts that have sprouted up over time have infuriated politicians and their staff on both sides. That level of frustration looks as if it is about to get a lot higher.