The IFCN welcomes new applications to its Code of Principles beginning Jan. 16, 2024. Our website is currently under renovation, so new signatories should begin the application process by emailing their interest to info@ifcn.org with "New Signatory" in the subject line.

The Washington Post Fact Checker

Organization: The Washington Post Fact Checker
Applicant: Glenn Kessler
Assessor: Margot Susca

Background

Under Glenn Kessler's leadership, the Washington Post Fact Checker site for more than a decade has become a top US fact check site focused on issues of political and social importance on a range of subjects and issues across the spectrum. While Kessler himself is an accomplished journalist with decades of experience, he has also carved out interesting work in the fact check space earning accolades including the National Association for Media Literacy Education's Media Literate Media award. Few could forget fact checking using the Pinocchio scale--these are cartoon illustrations awarded to claims by politicians (and others) getting them one Pinocchio on a four-point scale for "shading the truth" to a four-Pinochios designation for telling a "Whopper." 

Assessment Conclusion

A review of the Fact Checker's sourcing, methodology, transparency, connection to readers, and staff show me that it is compliant in all areas that the IFCN measures. As such, I mark the Fact Checker as fully compliant. 

on 16-Mar-2023 (11 months ago)

Margot Susca assesses application as Compliant

A short summary in native publishing language

Kessler's use of narrative elements to explain how fact checks are chosen, reported, sources used, and arcs to the stories is an appealing way to reach readers of the Fact Checker. If I were to criticize any part of its operation it would be that this part of the Washington Post site may wish to come out from its paywall. Its work is interesting as it combines video and narrative, and important as it holds leaders across the political spectrum accountable, but it feels like a loss that only subscribers have access. 

Section 1: Eligibility to be a signatory

To be eligible to be a signatory, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 1.1 The applicant is a legally registered organization, or a distinct team or unit within a legally registered organization, and details of this are easily found on its website.
  • 1.2 The team, unit or organization is set up exclusively for the purpose of fact-checking.
  • 1.3 The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application. For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track. Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.
  • 1.4 On average, at least 75% of the applicant’s fact checks focus on claims related to issues that, in the view of the IFCN, relate to or could have an impact on the welfare or well-being of individuals, the general public or society.
  • 1.5 The applicant’s editorial output is not, in the view of the IFCN, controlled by the state, a political party or politician.
  • 1.6 If the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, it provides a statement on its site setting out to the satisfaction of the IFCN, how it ensures its funders do not influence the findings of its reports.

Criteria 1.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain where on your website you set out information about your organization’s legal status and how this complies with criteria. Attach a link to the relevant page of your website.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

This is the landing page of The Fact Checker within The Washington Post website: www.washingtonpost.com/factchecker There is also an extensive "About The Fact Checker" page: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/  Key section: "Since 2013, The Washington Post has been owned by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, which is managed separately from the editorial and opinion section of The Post.”

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Both the Washington Post Fact Checker site and its description are available and clear. Criteria 1.1 is compliant. 


done_all 1.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please answer the following questions – (see notes in Guidelines for Application on how to answer)

 1. When and why was your fact-checking operation started?
 2. How many people work or volunteer in the organization and what are their roles?
 3. What different activities does your organization carry out?
 4. What are the goals of your fact-checking operation over the coming year?

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

1. The Fact Checker was started in September 2007 to provide fact checks during the 2008 presidential election. It was revived in January 2011, under the direction of Glenn Kessler, as a permanent feature of The Washington Post.

2. The Fact Checker is primarily two people -- Kessler and one video producer, who also writes stories. 

3. We aim to have a fact check at least two times a week. Fact checks are both in written form and in videos. We also produce a weekly newsletter with nearly 400,000 subscribers.We have undertaken a number of projects.  In mid-2020, via Scribner, we published a best-selling book on President Trump's falsehoods: https://www.amazon.com/Donald-Trump-His-Assault-Truth/dp/1982151072  In 2021, we created a database of every false or misleading statement made by President Biden in the first 100 days: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/biden-fact-checker-100-days/ We also created a guide on how to label manipulated video in 2019: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/politics/fact-checker/manipulated-video-guide/ And in 2022, we assessed whether any proposed gun laws would have made a difference in preventing gun violence in the United States since 2015: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/uvalde-buffalo-mass-shootings-gun-control-laws/?itid=sf_fact-checker

4. To fact check statements made by President Biden, lawmakers and advocacy groups. We focus especially on statements made by people in position of power. We also increasingly are writing longer form narratives that trace how misinformation is spread. (Example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/01/how-falsehood-athletes-dying-covid-vaccines-spread/) We also will maintain a focus on highlighting examples of manipulated video. (In early 2021: we produced a Instagram guide to spotting manipulated video: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/19/how-spot-fake-video/?itid=sf_fact-checker)

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

All four parts of Criteria 1.2 are answered, and I mark this section compliant. 


done_all 1.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.3
Proof you meet criteria
- The applicant has published an average of at least one fact check a week over the course of the six months prior to the date of application.
- For applicants from countries with at least 5 or more verified signatories need to have at least a fact check a week over the twelve months of publishing track.
- Consult to factchecknet@poynter.org for confirmation.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

The landing page of The Fact Checker includes an archival function so you can view fact checks by month: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2019/05/?utm_term=.3b201c8a35a2 We aim for at least two fact checks a week. 

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

I can confirm the volume of fact checks published stated in the application mean that the Washington Post Fact Checker is compliant in Criteria 1.3. 


done_all 1.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous three months. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Using the Fact Checker website available here https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/ I reviewed a series of fact checks published over the last three months. Subsequent sections will explain methodology, nonpartisanship, and sourcing for fact checks dating back to June 2022, but this review demonstrates Washington Post Fact Checker is compliant in Criteria 1.4. 


done_all 1.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please explain any commercial, financial and/or institutional relationship your organization has to the state, politicians or political parties in the country or countries you cover. Also explain funding or support received from foreign as well as local state or political actors over the previous financial year.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

We receive no such funding. The Washington Post is an independent newspaper. 

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Criteria 1.5 is compliant as the Washington Post and its fact check arm have no relationship to state, politicians, or political parties in the US or elsewhere.  


done_all 1.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 1.6
Proof you meet criteria
If you confirmed the organization receives funding from local or foreign state or political sources, provide a link to where on your website you set out how you ensure the editorial independence of your work.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

n/a

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

This criteria does not apply; I am marking it compliant. 


done_all 1.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 2: A commitment to Non-partisanship and Fairness

To be compliant on nonpartisanship and fairness, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 2.1 The applicant fact-checks using the same high standards of evidence and judgement for equivalent claims regardless of who made the claim.
  • 2.2 The applicant does not unduly concentrate its fact-checking on any one side, considers the reach and importance of claims it selects to check and publishes a short statement on its website to set out how it selects claims to check.
  • 2.3 The applicant discloses in its fact checks relevant interests of the sources it quotes where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided. It also discloses in its fact checks any commercial or other such relationships it has that a member of the public might reasonably conclude could influence the findings of the fact check.
  • 2.4 The applicant is not as an organization affiliated with nor declares or shows support for any party, any politician or political candidate, nor does it advocate for or against any policy positions on any issues save for transparency and accuracy in public debate.
  • 2.5 The applicant sets out its policy on non-partisanship for staff on its site. Save for the issues of accuracy and transparency, the applicant’s staff do not get involved in advocacy or publicise their views on policy issues the organization might fact check in such a way as might lead a reasonable member of the public to see the organization’s work as biased.

Criteria 2.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please share links to 10 fact checks published over the past year that you believe demonstrate your non-partisanship.
Please briefly explain how the fact checks selected show that (I) you use the same high standards of evidence for equivalent claims, (II) follow the same essential process for every fact check and (III) let the evidence dictate your conclusions.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

Our goals and standards are described in the "About The Fact Checker" page: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad We strive to apply The Pinocchio Test consistently and fairly, frequently referring back to previous fact checks to make sure we rate similar types of claims in the same manner. Over 12 years, we have written thousands of fact checks. We seek items to fact check based on whether the claim is newsworthy and would help to advance better understanding of complex policy issues. We hope to fact check a similar number of claims from each party, though we do not engage in a "counting" exercise that would result in a lowering of the standard of what we fact check. I have attached ten full-fledged fact checks. Our fact checks may come in both text and video formats.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/27/so-far-trumps-rollback-regulations-cant-be-blamed-ohio-train-wreck/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/13/hunter-biden-laptop-claims-russian-disinfo/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/07/fact-checking-president-bidens-2023-state-union-address/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/01/21/how-hunter-biden-conspiracy-theory-grew-lone-tweet-big-megaphone/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/14/debunked-claims-faux-facts-supporting-trumps-plan-execute-drug-dealers/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/04/stephen-millers-disingenuous-ad-charging-anti-white-racism/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/01/truth-about-election-fraud-its-rare/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/22/gop-claim-that-democrats-support-abortion-up-moment-birth/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/09/08/hillary-clintons-claim-that-zero-emails-were-marked-classified/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2022/uvalde-buffalo-mass-shootings-gun-control-laws/?itid=sf_fact-checker



Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

I can confirm that the About the Fact Checker page written by Glenn Kessler, who has run the site for more than a decade, explains its commitment to fact checking a range of claims across the political spectrum. I reviewed several of the fact checks included in the application as well as others not listed including one from March 1, 2023 headlined: "Nikki Haley’s bogus claims about foreign aid dollars" and Feb. 15's "Biden linked covid to a spike in violent crime. He omitted factors." 

A sample of these will be explained more in detail in subsequent sections of this assessment, but I see a range of topics across the political spectrum chosen for analysis.  

Furthermore, the site explains under its "A Few Basic Principles" subhead that it checks facts, not opinions. Under that section, the Fact Checker site also explains: "We will focus our attention and resources on the issues that are most important to voters. We cannot nitpick every detail of every speech. We especially try to examine statements that are newsworthy or concern issues of importance. We understand that everyone makes mistakes, especially when speaking extemporaneously, so we do not play "gotcha.""

I mark Criteria 2.1 as compliant.  


done_all 2.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.2
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you explain how you select claims to check, explaining how you ensure you do not unduly concentrate your fact-checking on any one side, and how you consider the reach and importance of the claims you select to check.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

This is described in the "About The Fact Checker" page, under the section "A Few Basic Principles": https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad


Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The Fact Checker site explains clearly in its About the Fact Checker page its mission and role, going so far as to engage readers to connect with the staff. Its site explains: "The purpose of this website, and an accompanying column in the Sunday print edition of The Washington Post, is to “truth squad” the statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, be they national, international or local. It’s a big world out there, and so we rely on readers to ask questions and point out statements that need to be checked.

But we are not limited to political charges or countercharges. We also seek to explain difficult issues, provide missing context and provide analysis and explanation of various “code words” used by politicians, diplomats and others to obscure or shade the truth. The Fact Checker is at heart about policy -- domestic and foreign -- as we have found that politicians are apt to be more misleading about complex and difficult-to-understand topics."

The About page also mentions awards for its coverage which explained it as “clear, deliberate and never hyperbolic.” As such, I mark Criteria 2.2 compliant.



done_all 2.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To assess Criteria 2.3 I reviewed the following fact check from Feb. 7, 2023 written by Glenn Kessler: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/07/fact-checking-president-bidens-2023-state-union-address/

with the headline: "Fact-checking President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address"

The fact check notes speeches don't warrant the typical Pinocchio scale, but it explained at the onset that the fact check would focus on 13 claims. The first, a claim President BIden made about job creation, garners a "misleading" tag from Kessler. Kessler continued: "But it’s hard to untangle the impact of that bill from similar pandemic-related bills passed under Trump."

I see no evidence of liberal or conservative bias in the fact checking of these 13 claims. As such, I mark this criteria compliant. 




done_all 2.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will assess compliance through a review of the fact checks published over the previous year. No additional information required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

For this item, I reviewed the Nov. 4, 2022 fact check headlined: "Stephen Miller’s disingenuous ad charging ‘anti-White’ racism" written by Kessler. The item may be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/04/stephen-millers-disingenuous-ad-charging-anti-white-racism/ 

Fact checking a group that calls itself the conservative ACLU, Kessler quotes the ad: “Joe Biden put white people last in line for covid relief funds.” Kessler explained: "This line inaccurately describes what happened. There was an effort to let minority groups get in line first for restaurant relief — but many White people, such as women and veterans, had equal access."

As such, I mark Criteria 2.4 compliant. 



done_all 2.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 2.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to a place on your website where you publish a statement setting out your policy on non-partisanship for staff and how it ensures the organization meets this criteria.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

This is described in the "About The Fact Checker" page, under the section "A Few Basic Principles": https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad There is also a link to a detailed discussion of Washington Post policies on non-partisanship: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/guidelines/corrections.html?tid=a_inl


Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The Washington Post and its fact check unit have clear guidelines establishing a commitment to nonpartisanship. 

The Fact Checker site explains: "Consistent with Washington Post policy, no one working on The Fact Checker may engage in partisan political activity or make contributions to candidates or advocacy organizations. Since 2013, The Washington Post has been owned by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, which is managed separately from the editorial and opinion section of The Post. In 2019, The Fact Checker received a $250,000 grant from Google News Initiative/YouTube to expand production of video fact checks."

As such, I mark Criteria 2.5 compliant. 


done_all 2.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 3: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Sources

To be compliant on sources, applicants must meet these four criteria

  • 3.1 The applicant identifies the source of all significant evidence used in their fact checks, providing relevant links where the source is available online, in such a way that users can replicate their work if they wish. In cases where identifying the source would compromise the source’s personal security, the applicant provides as much detail as compatible with the source’s safety.
  • 3.2 The applicant uses the best available primary, not secondary, sources of evidence wherever suitable primary sources are available. Where suitable primary sources are not available, the applicant explains the use of a secondary source.
  • 3.3 The applicant checks all key elements of claims against more than one named source of evidence save where the one source is the only source relevant on the topic.
  • 3.4 The applicant identifies in its fact checks the relevant interests of the sources it uses where the reader might reasonably conclude those interests could influence the accuracy of the evidence provided.

Criteria 3.1
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Using the State of the Union fact check mentioned above, the sources used included: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau data, and Semiconductor Industry Association (a trade group) among others. 

Biden said: "“It’s not fair the idea that in 2020, 55 of the biggest companies in America, the Fortune 500, made $40 billion in profits and paid zero in federal income taxes? Zero.” Kessler wrote: "This is one of Biden’s favorite statistics. According to factba.se, which tracks his statements, the president has used it in speeches or interviews more than two dozen times since the last State of the Union address. It’s not necessarily wrong, but there are some limitations — the number is not based on actual tax returns but instead is an estimate of taxes paid based on corporate reports." To fact check that item and provide it context, Kessler explained that Biden turns to a "left leaning" group that reviews SEC data to make that claim. To give the item more context, Kessler turned to what he referred to as the "nonpartisan" Joint Committee on Taxation from Congress. 

As such, I mark Criteria 3.1 compliant. 


done_all 3.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To address compliance with its sources, I reviewed the fact check headlined "Tennessee congressman Andrew Ogles’s résumé is too good to be true " and written by Kessler on March 10, 2023. 

Kessler explained that Ogles had been the subject of a local TV station's reporting that he had misstated, among other things, his college major. Ogles called himself an economist. Kessler set out to learn more about the politician writing, "Now The Fact Checker has uncovered more evidence of résumé inflation by Ogles — this time about his business career — that sheds light on a politician who said in his recent congressional campaign that you shouldn’t be in Congress “'if you don’t have the integrity to just be you and run on what you’ve done.'”

To make that claim and award the "whopper" four Pinnochios designation, Kessler used the following sources:  Ogles's LinkedIn page, Ogles's statements tracked on C-Span, Tennessee public records (on business incorporation), and a Bank of America spokesman. 

 I mark criteria 3.2 compliant. 


done_all 3.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To further address compliance with its sources, I reviewed the fact check headlined "So far, Trump’s rollback of regulations can’t be blamed for Ohio train wreck " and written by Kessler on February 27, 2023. Kessler noted: "From our analysis, none of the regulatory changes made during the Trump administration at this point can be cited as contributing to the accident." 


To state this, Kessler used the following sources: a Trump spokesman, a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, Government Accountability report, Cynthia Quarterman, "who helped write the rule as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration during the Obama administration," and the Federal Railroad Administration. 

I mark Criteria 3.3 compliant. 


done_all 3.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 3.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the applicant’s use of sources in a randomised sample of its fact checks to assess compliance. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

For the final review of the Fact Checker's use of source, I reviewed the "Biden linked covid to a spike in violent crime. He omitted factors" item dated February 15, 2023. Kessler wrote, "Crime data often takes a long time to collect — and trends that cause crime rates to fluctuate are not readily apparent." To judge Biden's claim and note its TKT, Kessler used the following sources: FBI statistics, a U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime report, co-author of a report by the Council on Criminal Justice (by email), Thomas Abt, the "founding director at the University of Maryland’s Violence Reduction Center" (interview and congressional testimony), and the Statistics and Public Policy journal. 

I mark Criteria 3.4 compliant due to this range of sources. 



done_all 3.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 4: A commitment to Transparency of Funding & Organization

To be compliant on funding and organization, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 4.1 Applicants that are independent organizations have a page on their website detailing each source of funding accounting for 5% or more of total revenue for its previous financial year. This page also sets out the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
  • 4.2 Applicants that are the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization make a statement on ownership.
  • 4.3 A statement on the applicant’s website sets out the applicant’s organizational structure and makes clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.
  • 4.4 A page on the applicant’s website details the professional biography of all those who, according to the organizational structure and play a significant part in its editorial output.
  • 4.5 The applicant provides easy means on its website and/or via social media for users to communicate with the editorial team.

Criteria 4.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please confirm whether you are an ‘independent organization’
or ‘the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization’ and share proof of this organizational status.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

The Fact Checker is a fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The Fact Checker's relationship to the Washington Post is clearly identified. Any reasonable person would be able to understand the role of the Fact Checker specifically and The Washington Post generally in the fact checking and journalism spaces. Additionally, the Post's relationship to its owner, Jeff Bezos, is clearly articulated. 

As such, I mark Criteria 4.1 compliant. 


done_all 4.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.2
Proof you meet criteria
If your organization is an “independent organization”, please share a link to the page on your website where you detail your funding and indicate the legal form in which the organization is registered (e.g. as a non-profit, as a company etc).
If your organization is “the fact-checking section or unit of a media house or other parent organization”, please share a link to the statement on your website about your ownership.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

On the "About The Fact Checker" page, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/, it says: "Since 2013, The Washington Post has been owned by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, which is managed separately from the editorial and opinion section of The Post.”

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Elaborating on Criteria 4.1, Criteria 4.2 is compliant as its relationship to the Post and the newspaper's private owner are clearly articulated online. 


done_all 4.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out your organizational structure, making clear how and by whom editorial control is exercised.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

On the "About The Fact Checker" page, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/ Kessler is the editor of The Fact Checker, responsible for editorial decisions regarding content. The Fact Checker team has complete independence to decide what to fact check and what ratings to make. Within The Washington Post, The Fact Checker is part of the national-news section of The Post, specifically the democracy team. The "About The Fact Checker" page highlights that Kessler is the editor -- both in his biography and in the discussion of the staff -- and also include the names of the national editor, the senior national investigations editor and democracy-team editor of The Post who oversee The Fact Checker operation in consultation with Kessler.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The site is clear on how it fact checks, who is fact checking, and why the fact checking is being done. Kessler, who has four decades of experience in journalism, is clearly the head of the unit. Biographies also explain other staff members and their work plus their backgrounds. 

Furthermore, the site explains the organizational hierarchy: "Matea Gold is the national editor of The Washington Post, Peter Wallsten is the senior national investigations editor and Mary Jo Murphy is deputy edtor on the democracy team. Kessler reports to Murphy. Peter Stevenson is the senior producer for Fact Checker videos."

As such, I mark Criteria 4.3 compliant. 


done_all 4.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.4
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you set out the professional biographies of those who play a significant part in your organization’s editorial output.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

A bio of the author appears at the bottom of each fact check. The "About The Fact Checker" page provides extensive detail on Glenn Kessler, who has run The Fact Checker since 2011: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.c83168ea8aad Shorter bios of other members of the team are also listed, along with links to more extensive biographies.


Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

Kessler and his staff plus their roles are labeled and described clearly. The site goes so far as to list past members of its fact checking team. I have included a screen shot of that description and bios as an example to demonstrate compliance with Criteria 4.4.                                                                                                            

Files Attached
fact checker bio .pn... (64 KB)
done_all 4.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 4.5
Proof you meet criteria
Please share a link to where on your website you encourage users to communicate with your editorial team.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

There is a contact form at the bottom of each fact check. (NOTE: the format for the previous form we used was unfortunately discontinued in late 2022, so clicking the link on earlier fact checks will only take you to the Washington Post landing page.) The bio of the authors also provides email and Twitter contacts, as does the "About The Fact Checker" page. Many fact checks are the result of reader queries. 

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

I mark Criteria 4.5 compliant and I would like to note its narrative engagement with readers. The About page explains: "The success of this project depends, to a great extent, on the involvement of you--the reader. About 50 percent of our fact checks start with an inquiry from a reader. Readers send us suggestions on topics to fact check and tips on erroneous claims by political candidates, interest groups, and the media. Once we have posted an item on a subject, we invite your comments and contributions. You can follow us on Twitter at GlennKesslerWP or friend us on Facebook. We welcome comments and suggestions via tweets (Include #FactCheckThis in your tweet) or on our Facebook page. You can also email us at factchecker@washpost.com."

Any reasonable member of the audience would understand they both are encouraged to engage with the site and be an active part of it on social media as well. 


done_all 4.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 5: A commitment to Standards and Transparency of Methodology

To be compliant on methodology, applicants must meet these six criteria

  • 5.1 The applicant publishes on its website a statement about the methodology it uses to select, research, write and publish its fact checks.
  • 5.2 The applicant selects claims to check based primarily on the reach and importance of the claims, and where possible explains the reason for choosing the claim to check.
  • 5.3 The applicant sets out in its fact checks relevant evidence that appears to support the claim as well as relevant evidence that appears to undermine it.
  • 5.4 The applicant in its fact checks assesses the merits of the evidence found using the same high standards applied to evidence on equivalent claims, regardless of who made the claim.
  • 5.5 The applicant seeks where possible to contact those who made the claim to seek supporting evidence, noting that (I) this is often not possible with online claims, (II) if the person who makes the claim fails to reply in a timely way this should not impede the fact check, (III) if a speaker adds caveats to the claim, the fact-checker should be free to continue with checking the original claim, (IV) fact-checkers may not wish to contact the person who made the claim for safety or other legitimate reasons.
  • 5.6 The applicant encourages users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable.

Criteria 5.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to the statement on your website that explains the methodology you use to select, research, write and publish your fact checks.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

This is outlined on the "About The Fact Checker" page: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/about-the-fact-checker/?utm_term=.a81654a2820e We have also produced a video for that page which takes viewers inside our process and how we conduct fact checks. That appears at the top of the "About The Fact Checker" page but can also be viewed via this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/about-the-fact-checker/2019/05/09/919c0fa2-4301-4ab2-9ce0-3176c500fb8a_video.html 

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The Fact Checker site easily explains how and why it selects, researches, writes, and publishes its catalog of fact checks. As such, I mark Criteria 5.1 compliant. 


done_all 5.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To assess methodology, I used the "Tennessee congressman Andrew Ogles’s résumé is too good to be true" fact check also used in the Source section above. Kessler explains how he fact checked various statements/biographical information forwarded by the congressman. Kessler explains each section related to Ogles's "inflated resume," his public statements about his work, and his biography including professional experience. 

As an example, Kessler wrote: "Ogles lists impressive achievements as an executive at E. Net Media & Consulting of Nashville from 2003 to 2010. (The résumé says he was an executive vice president, but his 2015 LinkedIn profile described him as president and owner.) The résumé states that at E. Net Media he represented “a variety of clients ranging from small start ups to Fortune 500 companies.” We could not corroborate his assertions."No corporate record exists for E. Net in Tennessee state records, although Ogles has set up other corporate entities, public records show. Tennessee corporate records show two companies with similar names were formed by other people before 2003, but neither was associated with Ogles.

As such, I mark Criteria 5.2 compliant. 

 


done_all 5.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.3
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To further assess the Fact Checker's compliance with methodology, I reviewed the following fact check "Nikki Haley’s bogus claims about foreign aid dollars" written by Kessler on Marc 1, 2023. Kessler explained: "Instead, she suggests that foreign aid goes directly to governments, especially ones with policies that are at odds with the interests of the United States. That’s wrong. The dirty little secret of foreign aid is that most of it never leaves the United States — and it goes right into the pockets of U.S. companies. Some countries receive direct grants of aid, but those are certainly not “'enemies.'” 

To explain, Kessler's methodology notes how he fact checks the claim by using data and reports from a range of sources: 

"By raw dollars, the United States gives more foreign aid than any other country. But when measured as a percentage of a country’s economy, the United States is far behind nations such as Britain, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. The United Nations has set a target of contributing 0.7 percent of gross national income in development aid; the United States clocks in with less than 0.2 percent, near the bottom of the list of major democracies, according to a 2020 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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Now we should explore who benefits from foreign aid. Much of the time, this aid does not actually leave U.S. shores. Then, if it does, it generally goes to nongovernmental organizations, not host governments. The exception might be direct cash transfers as a reward for counterterrorism operations to countries that support the United States, such as Turkey and Jordan, or Egypt and Israel for signing the Camp David Accords, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Very little since the 1970s has been spent on direct construction of roads, irrigation systems, electric power facilities or similar projects, CRS said."

As such, I mark Criteria 5.3 compliant. 



done_all 5.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.4
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

For Criteria 5.4 I assessed "What’s more common: A ‘good guy’ without a gun — or with one?" published January 31, 2023 after the mass shootings in California. Kessler contrasted the statements of a man in California who helped tackle the gunman with those made by Sen. Ted Cruz that "Armed good guys stopping armed bad guys.”

To investigate the claim, Kessler first provided background on the California shooting as well as another in Indiana where a guy with a gun shot another guy. Kessler wrote: "Two narratives: A “good guy” without a gun. A “good guy” with a gun. Whether one is more common than the other depends on the data you use — though among all such shooting attacks, neither is the norm. The vast majority of more than 430 “active-shooter” incidents catalogued by the FBI since 2000 ended when the shooter fled, when law enforcement killed or apprehended the shooter, or when the shooter died by suicide."

Using the FBI data, Kessler explained the difficulty in assessing the claims, but noted: "The FBI reports suggest that about three times as many citizens without a gun have ended an active-shooting incident as citizens with a gun." Kessler continued noting another university's tracking of the FBI data: "This data shows that since 2000, citizens without a gun have halted nearly twice as many incidents (42) as citizens with guns who were not commissioned law enforcement officers (22). If security personnel or off-duty officers are excluded from the list, the number with a gun drops to 12." 

For even more context, Kessler interviewed a guns rights advocate who claims the FBI numbers are incorrect and show that even fewer "good guy with gun" incidents existed historically. 

Due to the thorough explanation of both facts and contexts, I mark Criteria 5.4 compliant. 


done_all 5.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.5
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the methodology used in a randomised sample of your fact checks to assess compliance with these criteria. No additional evidence is required.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

To close out the assessment of the Fact Checker's methodology, I reviewed its analysis of the item headlined, "Mass killings since 2015: Could proposed laws have made a difference?" that included both Kessler's work and the Fact Checker's video producer. By examining both mass shootings and political responses Kessler explained: "The takeaway is nuanced: Only about one-third of these mass killings might have been prevented by any major proposals. But some ideas — such as not allowing people under age 21 to buy assault rifles and banning ammunition storage and feeding devices known as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds — might have minimized the bloodshed. Improvements to the country’s background check system could make a difference as well, though it’s not clear how many lives would have been saved by the relatively modest changes that are part of the tentative Senate agreement, which would require a mandatory search of juvenile justice and mental health records of buyers younger than 21 and seek to clarify who needs to obtain a federal firearm license." 

Later in the fact check analsysis, Kessler explained they focused on legislation aimed at reducing gun access or gun ownership loopholes. Its methodology is explained at the bottom of the fact check. I have attached it as an example of high standards and which show. me that Criteria 5.5 is compliant. 

Files Attached
Screen Shot 2023-03-... (307 KB)
done_all 5.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 5.6
Proof you meet criteria
Please describe how you encourage users to send in claims to check, while making it clear what readers can legitimately expect will be fact-checked and what isn’t fact-checkable. Include links where appropriate. If you do not allow this, explain why.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

At the bottom of each fact check, there is a link to this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe01K2h8TbgfMF2z2Ryjw_bziOd_a3rlanmgfuASZLtXXsr_g/viewform (NOTE: the format for the previous form we used was unfortunately discontinued in late 2022, so clicking the link on earlier fact checks will only take you to the Washington Post landing page.) We also provide an email contact on the About The Fact Checker page. The criteria for fact checks is listed on the About The Fact Checker page:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/


Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

This assessment complements criteria 4.5 and 2.2 where any reasonable person would understand the scope and breadth of the work the Fact Checker engages with and also understand how to submit claims or issues to be reviewed. As such, I mark Criteria 5.6 compliant. 


done_all 5.6 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Section 6: A commitment to an Open & Honest Corrections Policy

To be compliant on corrections policy, applicants must meet these five criteria

  • 6.1 The applicant has a corrections or complaints policy that is easily visible and accessible on the organization’s website or frequently referenced in broadcasts.
  • 6.2 The policy sets out clear definitions of what it does and does not cover, how major mistakes, especially those requiring revised conclusions of a fact check, are handled, and the fact that some complaints may justify no response. This policy is adhered to scrupulously.
  • 6.3 Where credible evidence is provided that the applicant has made a mistake worthy of correction, the applicant makes a correction openly and transparently, seeking as far as possible to ensure that users of the original see the correction and the corrected version.
  • 6.4 The applicant, if an existing signatory, should either on its corrections/complaints page or on the page where it declares itself an IFCN signatory inform users that if they believe the signatory is violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN, with a link to the IFCN site.
  • 6.5 If the applicant is the fact-checking unit of a media company, it is a requirement of signatory status that the parent media company has and adheres to an open and honest corrections policy.

Criteria 6.1
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a link to where you publish on your website your corrections or complaints policy. If you are primarily a broadcaster, please provide evidence you frequently reference your corrections policy in broadcasts.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

The About the Fact Checker page links to The Washington Post's policies on corrections: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/guidelines/corrections.html?tid=a_inl

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The Fact Checker site has an open and clear corrections policy. As such, I mark Criteria 6.1 compliant. 


done_all 6.1 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.2
Proof you meet criteria
The assessor will review the corrections policy to verify it meets critera. No additional information needed.

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

This is the Washington Post corrections policy is comprehensive; all material that follows is taken verbatim from its Policies and Standards website page. 

Corrections

If we are substantively correcting an article, photo caption, headline, graphic, video or other material, we should promptly publish a correction explaining the change.

Clarifications

When our journalism is factually correct but the language we used to explain those facts is not as clear or detailed as it should be, the language should be rewritten and a clarification added to the story. A clarification can also be used to note that we initially failed to seek a comment or response that has since been added to the story or that new reporting has shifted our account of an event.

Editor’s notes

A correction that calls into question the entire substance of an article, raises a significant ethical matter or addresses whether an article did not meet our standards, may require an editor’s note and be followed by an explanation of what is at issue. A senior editor must approve the addition of an editor’s note to a story.

Other corrections policies

When an error is found by a reader and posted to the comment stream, the audience engagement team should indicate in comments that it has been corrected.

If we have sent out incorrect information in an alert, we should send out an alert informing people that the news reported in the earlier alert was wrong and give readers the accurate information.

When we publish erroneous information on social networks, we should correct it on that platform.

We do not attribute blame to individual reporters or editors (e.g. “because of a reporting error” or “because of an editing error”). But we may note that an error was the result of a production problem or because incorrect information came to us from a trusted source (wire services, individuals quoted, etc.). 


done_all 6.2 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.3
Proof you meet criteria
Please provide a short statement about how the policy was adhered to over the previous year (or six months if this is the first application) including evidence of two examples of the responses provided by the applicant to a correction request over the previous year. Where no correction request has been made in the previous year, you must state this in your application, which will be publicly available in the assessment if your application is successful.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

The Washington Post correction policy requires major errors to be noted at the top of the article and minor errors at the bottom of the article; a Washington Post managing editor must approve the designation of a minor error. Here are two examples of fact checks that were corrected:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/23/debra-meadows-appears-have-filed-three-false-voter-forms/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/15/biden-linked-covid-spike-violent-crime-he-omitted-factors/


Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

I mark Criteria 6.3 as compliant, and I note that while reviewing the Covid/Biden item listed in the Sources section, I noticed at the top of the fact check the attached correction. It was clear. I also reviewed the two corrections included in the Fact Checker's application, and these also show a commitment to transparency. 

Files Attached
WaPo Fact Checker Co... (71 KB)
done_all 6.3 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.4
Proof you meet criteria
If you are an existing signatory, please provide a link to show where on your site you inform users that if they believe you are violating the IFCN Code, they may inform the IFCN of this, with a link to the complaints page on the IFCN site.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

This is at the end of the "About The Fact Checker" page, where the IFCN badge is displayed: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/01/07/about-fact-checker/

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

I can confirm that the About page lists the IFCN badge and its relationship to the IFCN Code is clearly articulated. I have included a screen shot of that section of the page. I mark Criteria 6.4 compliant. 

Files Attached
WaPo IFCN Badge Onli... (245 KB)
done_all 6.4 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.

Criteria 6.5
Proof you meet criteria
If you are the fact-checking unit of a media company, please provide a link to the parent media company’s honest and open corrections policy and provide evidence that it adheres to this.

The Washington Post Fact Checker
02-Mar-2023 (1 year ago)

The Washington Post publishes corrections every day and makes it easy for readers to submit a correction request: https://helpcenter.washingtonpost.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003675928-Submit-a-correction

Margot Susca Assessor
06-Mar-2023 (11 months ago) Updated: 11 months ago

The site clearly explains its corrections policy, and it provides an easy way for readers to submit a correction should the need arise. As such I mark Criteria 6.5 compliant. 


done_all 6.5 marked as Compliant by Margot Susca.