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Political fact-checking: Fun at the FactFest

AS THIS week’s deadline approached for the congressional “supercommittee” to agree on how to trim the deficit, each party tried to put pressure on the other with claims of dubious veracity. Republicans aired exaggerated figures for the proportion of government spending that is borrowed, ranging from 40% to 43% (the true figure this year was 36.1%, projected to fall to 27% in 2012). John Kerry, meanwhile, said that the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan proposed a year ago would have raised an extra $2 trillion in revenue; it actually predicted just under $1 trillion.Have you yawned yet? The truth is not always gripping stuff. But somebody has to tell it, to keep political discourse from going entirely off the rails. That is the theory behind PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org, the two best-known of various sites that trawl through politicians’ public statements and dig out their lies, evasions and economies with the truth (FactCheck for the borrowing percentage, PolitiFact over Mr Kerry’s revenue inflation). And as election season heats up and the fibs start flying thick and fast, they hope to be in the vanguard…

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