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Daily Digest: Too Many Fact Checkers Spoil the Truth?

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, October 17 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Debunking: America's Newest Growth Industry: This election cycle has given rise to a number of independent fact check sites, from Factcheck.org and PolitFact.com to those run by various newspapers. But Politico's Daniel Libit wonders if there's a downside to so many truth sniffers -- whether, as a Factcheck.org's director worries, the sites "reinforce the notion that all politicians are liars and it doesn't matter who gets elected." Traditional media journalists, it's probably fair to say, seem especially eager of late to assume a fact-checking role, whether that's being willing to call a whopper by its name or a desire to dive into Joe the Plumber's tax history. Should the job of fact checking fall to them though, or is better to have third parties acting as referees on the truth? It's a provocative question. #

  • Celebrities and Their PSAs: A brand new public service announcement up on YouTube features the obscured face of a "famous Hollywood actress" making the case that what matters isn't her world renown, but that you get out and vote. The homemade-looking piece is actually the work of Internet auteur Derek Waters, of "Drunk History" fame, on behalf of Why Tuesday?. As for the blurry faced celeb, well, I've give you two hints: (1) she issues a sly call to "bring it on," which just happens to be the name of a much loved 2000 movie and (2) it's Kirsten Dunst. #

  • Having that Difficult Talk with Your Parents: In other good-looking famous people news, two stars of some program called "Gossip Girl" that I'm assured is rather popular, are going the more partisan route. Blake Lively and Penn Badgley are featured on a new PSA site from MoveOn called "Partnership for a McCain-Free White House." They've got a list of the warning signs that your parents might be experimenting with a McCain vote; number three of the list is "Referring to the past 8 years of American history as 'The Golden Age.'" It's a rather clever spoof -- even if I was disappointed that they didn't make use of the classic anti drug PSA line: How'd you learn to be a liberal, son? "I learned it by watching you!" #

  • A Birds Eye View of the Ad Wars: Looking at how and where campaigns, lobbying groups, and 527s as spending ad cash is a fascinating perspective on their election strategy. And the New York Times has a new feature that pulls back the curtain on the $286 million that has been spent on presidential political ads this cycle. With it, you can track the expenditures of everyone from the Republican National Committee to Vote Vets, showing how many times, in which markets, and at what price their ads aired. The site drills down by issue, revealing, for example, which abortion-related ads are running in Milwaukee. Or you can focus in by individual advertiser, so you can see in which battleground states T. Boone Pickens's "Drill Drill Drill 60" spot is airing. And this being the web, you can, naturally, watch the commercials themselves. Politics may be still be local, but we've certainly got a newly national perspective on it in '08. #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Palin Emails Go for a Pretty Penny: Alaska's Governor's office has being quoting news organizations a price tag of up to $15 million for copies of selected emails sent by Sarah Palin and her staff, reports MSNBC's Bill Dedman. The gubernatorial office, which reports having been swamped with records requests since Palin's pick as a vice presidential nominee, says that's how much it costs to extract the messages reporters want from the some five terabytes of relevant data, redact them, and then print them out. And as it turns out, some news organizations don't have that kind of cash laying around. Bill notes that the website Government Attic, is archiving all of the information that has come out of the Juneau office thus far. Relatedly, a state judge in Alaska has ordered that the Yahoo! and other private email accounts used by Palin and her staff be preserved, but didn't take the step of saying they ought halt the use of the third-party addresses. #

In Case You Missed It...

In their latest Politico column, our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry assess how YouTube has become an extension of both campaign operations and public memory and declare the video hub the "technological winner" of this election.

Nancy Scola reports on an important deal between progressive data giant Catalist and progressive online leader DemocracyInAction that gives Catalist's world-class data to DIA's 501c3 clients for free -- free, that is, for the swap for the non-profits' own donor data.