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The Truth about Truth

It seems that every commercial is now political. In fact, we receive logs regarding our ads and they show that very few are running right now. Of course, that’s no surprise.  Political advertising has the right to purchase ads at the lowest price on the station. And by law, they can “bump” non-political ads from the airwaves.

Most of the time, an ad barely catches my attention. How many politicians walking in their casual sweater or talking intently to a crowd in their rolled-up-sleeves can you really take. Then, an ad will come on TV that charges some amazing statistic or belief about the opposing candidate.

John McManus has written a book “Don’t be fooled: A Citizen’s Guide to News and Information in the Digital Age“, to give tactics on sifting through the truth versus lies. It helps turn all of us journalists.

The Internet has given us all the ability to do quick fact checking. He gives some suggestions for places to turn to.  Here are a few places to look:

FactCheck.org: a site managed by the University of Pennsylvania that you will see listed in newspapers.  It analyzes statements by politicians and news makers. They pull material from radio, TV and print advertisements.

Snopes.com: a place to go when you hear a story that sounds so unbelieveable that you cannot tell whether to believe it or whether it is a myth.

Politifact.com: a site operated by the “Tampa Bay Times” that claims to sort out the truth. It rates politicians claims and even gives one category of “pants on fire”.

It’s great to have the Internet. Wouldn’t it be great to have a “truth light” on the TV for watching the news there. Or, maybe invent a flashlight to shine on friends, when they tell stories. Kinda like the mood ring, to see if they would change colors.  Truth is fun!

I guess if there is some fear of what is out there… this is what happens:

Presidential Debate Legal Agreement

If you have watched any of the Presidential or Vice Presidential debates, then you know that there is a bit of arguing between the participants. Tuesday’s debate seemed to have more interruptions and moderator Candy Crowley had a hard time getting President Obama and Governor Romney to stop talking or going beyond indicated time limits.

There was some mention of rules. That’s when I found “Time” magazine’s article that lists the rules for all the debates. Among the stipulations: The candidates aren’t supposed to use props. I guess no charts or graphs: The candidates cannot reference specific  individuals in the audience except family members;  and the candidates are not supposed to ask each other any direct questions. I know that rule was broken a few times.

When I watched Tuesday’s debate, it looked like they both were breaking several rules and ignoring time limits. In the heat of the moment, I guess it’s difficult not to directly argue too. It’s the same temptations that all lawyers face in the heat of battle during trial.

During the debate on Tuesday, some of the camera angles looked strange to me. Specifically, it looked like the President was sitting at an angle. Looking at this agreement indicates that the TV networks had rules to follow. Networks were supposed to avoid cutaways that showed one candidate’s expression or visual response to the other answering the question.  I guess you have to maintain a face without shock or anger. Now that is a real public speaking talent.

Everything has rules in politics. To me, it looked like an argument and not like my old college debate days. Maybe that’s why the agreement literally stipulated  that the debate commission would enforce rules and restrictions “to the best of the commission’s abilities”.  The wildness of politics!

For pic o’ day, I went with a cat with a bit of an attitude:

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