For a fact-challenged era in a fact-challenged state, the Better Government Association has signed on as Illinois’ fact-checking referee.
Beginning Aug. 1, the Chicago-based, non-partisan government watchdog becomes the exclusive Illinois affiliate of PolitiFact, a Pulitzer-Prize winning fact-checking project with a goal of holding politicians and government officials accountable for the things they say.
The first in what will be a regular series of BGA produced factchecks focuses on a claim by Gov. Bruce Rauner that a school funding reform package at the center of yet another budget dispute with the legislature amounts to a bailout for Chicago’s troubled teacher’s pension fund. BGA analysis determines that claim to be false.
PolitiFact, a decade-old project of the Tampa Bay Times, vets the accuracy—or lack thereof—of assertions by leaders in Washington and several states where it maintains partnerships with news organizations that conduct local fact checks. It’s exclusive “Truth-O-Meter” aims to objectively rate the credibility of political speech on a sliding scale from True down to Pants on Fire!
In a world increasingly awash in a lack of candor, PolitiFact has also won acclaim for designating a standout “lie of the year.” The winner for 2016 was “Fake News,” the umbrella term for an array of misleading and fabricated stories that came to permeate the Internet, perhaps to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
“Never has straight-talk from our leaders been more necessary and never has it been in more short supply,” said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. “We view the addition of PolitiFact as a critical tool in carrying out our mission as a watchdog shining a light on the credibility of those we as taxpayers entrust, or consider entrusting, to manage government resources wisely, fairly and efficiently.”