General Question

Earthgirl's avatar

Is there a non partisan website that acts as a clearinghouse for accurate, up to the minute information concerning political campaigns?

Asked by Earthgirl (11169 points ) September 3rd, 2012

If so, what is it?
If not, why doesn’t this exist?
Is it too large a task, or is there simply no will to create it?
If there is no will to create it, why not?

I am thinking of a place voters could go to find out the real statistics, facts and history concerning issues and accusations made during political campaigns. I am thinking of a place (somewhere over the rainbow) where the spin doctors cannot keep a toehold.

If a candidate twisted the facts or gave inaccurate statistics he/she would get corrected. If a voter was looking for facts relating to a speech or debate they had seen aired, there would be a searchable way to get the facts.

I know that the news is supposed to serve this function, but even if it were unbiased, which it often is not, it cannot get into the detail of things said and so, often, I feel like candidates are getting away with many inaccuracies and purposely twisting the facts. Shouldn’t there be a way to call them on it?

If you think it’s possible, how would you monitor the site in order to maintain accuracy?
Would it be a good idea to post retractions when information was wrong or inaccurate?
Any ideas?

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11 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

The most famous one, and first on the scene, I believe, is factcheck.org. It is published at the University of Pennsylvania, and of course Republicans don’t trust any academics, so I think they have some competing fact checking websites. Politifact is put out by the Tampa Bay Times. The Washing Post sponsors the Fact Checker.

News Busters claims to expose and combat liberal media bias. And of course, Wikipedia provides a list of individual and organizational fact checkers. Knock yourself out with info!

PS If you can tell me what nonpartisan means, I’ll tell you which of these is nonpartisan. But I don’t believe “nonpartisan” means anything. We all are looking from a unique point of view and that means that from wherever anyone else is looking, we look biased. Sorry if you got your hopes up on that one.

gondwanalon's avatar

Sadly no site that you describe exists. This is because people control and operate political news and information sites. People are human and anytime a human does something, there is always a possibility of error (intensional or not). Also people see the world, data, so called “facts” and other information in different ways. Reality is not the same for all.

I think that pure truth in politics is non-existent nor is it possible.

“Therefore the good of man must be the end of the science of politics”. -Aristotle

wundayatta's avatar

No such site could exist, either because there is no such thing as non-partisanship.

Humans relate to each other by positioning themselves in a metaphorical idea space with relation to everyone else. Every other person is going to be either closer than you or farther than you to any of a number of parties you might be looking at. We all look at each other in a relative way. Thus we are always going to perceive someone else as being closer to one party or the other (if we only use those two points of reference).

I suppose it is possible that someone is going to seem non-partisan, or more non-partisan than anyone else, anyway, but that will only be for a very small number of people who are close to you. For everyone else, there will be a disparate distance to the poles, and partisanship will appear. It ain’t possible to be non-partisan, except for a relatively small group of people.

Earthgirl's avatar

@wundayatta But even if it’s not possible for a single individual to be totally non partisan. don’t you think that a group of people has a whole different dynamic? Isn’t it possible that you could have a website where the variety of people involved, having different viewpoints, would act as a system of checks and balances? One can never totally eliminate bias, but I think one can demand that when information is posted or published or aired that it has to be backed up with facts, and if it isn’t backed up with facts, or if it is filled with questionable inferences it could be exposed as faulty.

laureth's avatar

Part of the problem is this. Let’s say there are two political parties, the Snorks and the Weezils. The Snork position is that 2+2=4, and the Weezil position is that 2+2=7. Along comes a non-partisan fact-checking site that says 2+2=4. Immediately, the Weezils would take offense, saying that this fact “checking” site is clearly biased and partisan.

wundayatta's avatar

In a way, you can see the entire election process as a fact checking system of the type you propose, @Earthgirl. For a private organization to try to do that kind of consensus building on every issue they are fact checking would be unwieldy, if not impossible.

Earthgirl's avatar

@wundayatta I undeerstand. It is unweildy. But unfortunately I don’t have the time or patience to listen to all of the blah blah blah and weed through it. So I dream my dream of an informative, unbiased searchable database. I know it’s silly but since I hate politics and want to spend as little time as I have to becoming informed, I dream the impossible dream.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Earthgirl's avatar

@wundayatta Besides, I don’t propose it or want it as a place for “consensus building”. That would involve making judgements and drawing conclusions from the facts. I am simply wishing for a place to find the raw verifiable facts.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Sorry, @Earthgirl, there’s no such site or group. Now, if you want to check the facts alone, then as @wundayatta suggested, factcheck.org is a pretty good place to go. For federal budgetary considerations, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) is as non-partisan as you’re going to get in D.C., and even then, it’s not wholly free of bias.

Your best bet is to pick a handful of publications/newsites and follow them on a regular basis. It takes time and patience, both elements you’ve said you’re short of, but that’s the best way to educate yourself. For example, read a couple of mainstream newspapers (say, The San Francisco Chronicle or The New York Times) that aren’t as corporate as most and occasionally still produce good journalism, then combine it with some online news sites/independent journalists (perhaps a couple from different parts of the political spectrum), then end with a couple of foreign outlets (I like the BBC).

It does take time, I admit, but once you’re up to speed, then it becomes easier to then to go the politicians’ websites, and you can then read their positions (and read between the lines!) to fully understand what they’re for (or more often, what they’re against!).

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