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Media truth squads and the \'08 campaign: Any impact?

September 22nd, 2008 12:00 am by Staff Report

\"A lie can run around the world before the truth can get its boots on,\" it is said in a quote commonly attributed to Scottish inventor James Watt.

According to a report by the Christian Science Monitor, this aphorism may never have felt more true than in the 2008 presidential campaign. And more than ever, independent organizations and media outlets – from the Annenberg Public Policy Center\'s Factcheck.org to Politifact, a project by the St. Petersburg Times, to other truth-squadding efforts in the mainstream media – have tried to referee the claims and assertions of the candidates and their campaigns.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee, has stated repeatedly that she rejected the so-called

bridge to nowhere as congressional pork, when in fact she welcomed it until it became politically radioactive in Washington. She continued to repeat her “thanks, but no thanksâ€Â line long after a wave of media stories punctured her claim.

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, has dined out for months on how his Republican rival, John McCain, wants to wage war in Iraq for 100 more years when, in fact, Senator McCain\'s point was that he was willing to maintain a US military presence in Iraq long after the hostilities had ended, as the US did in Europe after World War II.

But given the low regard in which the public holds the news media, is all this truth-squadding having an impact?

\"To some extent, it\'s in the eye of the beholder,\" says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. \"Facts derive their meaning from the context in which viewers see them.\"

CLICK HERE for the full report.

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