Glenn Kessler is The Washington Post’s Fact Checker columnist, in which he checks the facts behind political rhetoric. At least five days a week, he closely examines the truth of a statement or claim by a politician, political organization or diplomat. He then awards a “Pinocchio” rating on whether the statement is factual, ranging from one to four (for “whoppers”) Pinocchios. On rare occasions, he may award a “Geppetto Checkmark” for a completely truthful statement. (An explanation of the complete rating system can be found below.)
The Fact Checker column was originally launched in 2007 by former Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs, specifically for the 2008 presidential election. In January 2011, Kessler revived the column as a permanent feature, with a broader focus than just the presidential campaign. It has now become, along with PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, one of the premier journalistic fact-checking Web sites in the nation.
The Fact Checker Rating System:One Pinocchio:
Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.
Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people
Three Pinocchios:Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.
The Geppetto Checkmark:Statements and claims that contain “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” will be recognized with our prized Geppetto checkmark.
An Upside-Down Pinocchio:A statement that represents a clear but unacknowledged “flip-flop” from a previously-held position.
Withholding Judgment:There will be many occasions when it is impossible to render a snap judgment because the issue is very complex or there are good arguments on both sides. In this case, Kessler will withhold our judgment until Kessler can gather more facts.