With all of the news coverage devoted to the candidates for next year’s Presidential election, fact checking web sites such as FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and Fact Checker have been working overtime.
I’ll admit that I have used these sites over the past few years to check some of the statements made by candidates running for office, and as you might expect, some statements made were true and others not so true.
I took it for granted that these fact checking sites played a key role in the political process, acting as a type of independent auditor.
But then the other day I was struck with an entirely different view of such sites – why do we even need the fact checkers? What does it say about our political process and the people that run for, and hold, political office?
It seems as if we take for granted that not everything a politician is going to say is going to be true, and so we need an independent party to figure out the facts versus the fiction.
Since such fact checking is by necessity done after the candidate has already made the statements for which he or she will be fact checked later, it allows the candidate to say almost anything he or she wants with little repercussion at that moment.
I can’t imagine what life would be like if we had to have fact checkers for other professions.
What if we had to fact check every statement made by a doctor, a teacher, a college recruiter, a mechanic, or a gardener? It seems as if nothing would get done, we would spend all of our time fact checking.
Fortunately life is not like that because I think we inherently trust people, except for politicians.
And that’s a shame. It’s one of the most important professions, since politicians are the ones who can affect real change in society.
And so rather than feeling good about the fact that we have fact checkers, I view it as an indictment of both the political process and the people who are part of it.
I’d love to see an election where there would be no need for fact checkers because the candidates simply told the truth.
If John Lennon were around today, he may have added another line to his classic “Imagine” song:
Imagine there’s no fact checkers, everyone tells the truth.