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US466 - Public Organization to Fact-Check Political Ads

Political candidates should not be able to broadcast lies to the American public. Rather than sifting through this meretricious propapanda after-the-fact and trying to correct false impressions created in voters' minds, we should have a politically-independent public organization fact-check ads before they're aired or printed.

What do you think?

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Should we require political ads to be approved by a public fact-checking organization?

31%11 votes
31%11 votes
11%4 votes
17%6 votes
8%3 votes

| 35 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  fox news won in court (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Actuary4Change

    the right to lie on air .
    The right to free speech ...

    Now if you wanted to say the fact checkers should be given the right to some free airtime .

    A problem with fact checkers might be , on some issues ,
    one fact checker saying its a fact and another saying it is not  .

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 10:58:35 AM PDT

    •  In politics, truth is INVARIABLY the enemy. (0+ / 0-)

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:33:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh ? (0+ / 0-)

        "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

        by indycam on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:36:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK...a bit overstated (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GregOrr

          The truth is Ok as long as it's the very last thing tried and all other obviously incorrect interventions have enriched a sufficient number of people.

          Why do we not have a single payer system?

          Why dither around with anything but that?

          To maintain a scam.

          Yes, many good things get done but far too many scam continue and are actively protected: what kind of country would this be if truth really mattered as a first resort in politics?

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 01:41:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GregOrr

        not broadcast ... any false or misleading news."

        As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.

        "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

        by Mr SeeMore on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:48:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Terrible idea (6+ / 0-)

    Forgetting about the First Amendment for the moment, no institution is immune from corruption, so a politically independent organization is just not achievable.

    It would be used by the powerful against the powerless.

    A definition is the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a wall of words -- Samuel Butler

    by A Mad Mad World on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 10:59:38 AM PDT

    •   Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GregOrr

      not broadcast ... any false or misleading news."

      As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.

      I believe it is a GREAT idea!

      "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

      by Mr SeeMore on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:50:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You want a Ministry of Truth to decide what can (5+ / 0-)

    andcan and cannot be said?

    Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

    by Fickle on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:00:17 AM PDT

  •  That is a terrible idea. (7+ / 0-)
    we should have a politically-independent public organization fact-check ads before they're aired or printed.
    Putting aside the fact that such a bill would be declared unconstitutional almost instantaneously, if you think that an organization that was given the power to decide what political advertisements would be allowed to air would stay "politically-independent" for longer than ten seconds after its creation, you haven't been paying attention for the past few decades.

    Giving one organization the power to enforce its opinions about what the "truth" and the "facts" are by banning all political speech it considers outside those boundaries is just setting up a system whereby one party would have the power to simply shut down the other party's political messaging entirely.

    Consider that there are many right-wingers who think Barack Obama is lying when he calls himself the President of the United States, because they're stuck in the racist delusion that he wasn't born in the United States and consequently think he's ineligible for the job. Would you want such people making the decisions as part of this "politically-independent" organization, and having the power to ban the Obama campaign from television outright?

    No. No. A million times, no.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:04:13 AM PDT

    •  I see the counterargument, but... (0+ / 0-)

      Fact is Barack Obama was born in the U.S. It's provable. Paying for ads that suggest otherwise would be blocked.

      Increasingly Republicans have subscribed to the theory that truth is irrelevant to political strategy. Just say the thing you want people to believe often enough.

      This would just be for the "This message approved by [candidate]" ads, not all political speech.

      •  But the actual truth wouldn't matter. (5+ / 0-)
        Fact is Barack Obama was born in the U.S. It's provable. Paying for ads that suggest otherwise would be blocked.
        Whether or not it's provable or proven really doesn't matter one whit; in your own proposal, the only people whose opinion would matter in the slightest on whether something is provable or proven would be those who sat on the Committee For Fact-Checking.

        They would literally have unilateral and binding power to decide the truth. If they decided that the sky was red, every political ad saying the sky is blue would be banned from the air, regardless of whether the Committee For Fact-Checking's version of the facts lined up with the actual facts.

        Increasingly Republicans have subscribed to the theory that truth is irrelevant to political strategy. Just say the thing you want people to believe often enough.
        The solution to that is to strengthen the Fourth Estate and demand that they start calling lies out for what they are, refuse to patronize any press outlet that does not do so, and encourage our fellow Americans to do likewise—not to give a group of people the power to decide what political speech will and won't be allowed to air.
        This would just be for the "This message approved by [candidate]" ads, not all political speech.
        Then it would be ridiculously easy for a campaign to route money through outside organizations in order to skirt the regulations. You wouldn't decrease the number of lies on the air one iota; you'd simply be moving them from candidate campaigns (who can be held accountable by voters for their lies on Election Day) to unaccountable non-campaign organizations.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:21:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •   Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GregOrr

      not broadcast ... any false or misleading news."

      As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.

      In the Unites States, Fox News and talk radio, the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons, have become the masters of propaganda and distortion on the public airwaves. Fox News' notoriously biased and dishonest coverage of the Wisconsin's protests is a prime example of the brand of news coverage Canada has smartly avoided.
      I believe it is a GREAT idea!

      "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

      by Mr SeeMore on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 02:55:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And who in Canada has the power to decide... (0+ / 0-)

        ....what constitutes "false or misleading news"?

        Does Canada's Radio Act cover political advertisements by candidates, or just news coverage? US law permits few if any restrictions on the content of candidate advertisements, and even goes so far as to require broadcast licensees to run candidate advertisements if they can pony up the money (a law Randall Terry and his disciples have used by running dummy campaigns so that the TV networks will be required to broadcast their advertisements, which usually feature gruesome images of aborted fetuses).

        Also, does Canada's Radio Act cover cable networks as well as broadcasters? US law wouldn't permit Congress to put stringent regulations like that on cable networks, even if it did permit them to put such regulations on broadcast licensees.

        And all of that is presuming that the First Amendment would permit a level of prior restraint on speech where all political speech would have to run through truth censors who would decide what political speech was sufficiently truthful to be permitted—something that it almost certainly would not permit.

        Even if all of those conditions were fulfilled, though, this would still be a bad idea, because it would still be giving some organization the power to decide what "truth" is, and ban any political speech that does not fall within that definition—and that organization would inevitably become a tool for the party in power to shut down the speech of the party that is out of power.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 04:33:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A government agency (0+ / 0-)

          According to thestar.com:

          The Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) typically tries to persuade broadcasters to change bad behaviour and only takes punitive action — cancelling or refusing to renew broadcast licenses — when a broadcaster systematically and deliberately flouts the regulations. The CRTC is not empowered to fine or imprison radio or TV executives who breach regulations.
          •  And who exactly appoints them? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GregOrr

            I'm still not seeing any way that an organization that could censor political speech they consider insufficiently truthful wouldn't be abused within the US.

            Also, it's important to note that you're calling for an explicit censorship organization to pre-screen messages, such that they would have to approve any political speech before it was permitted; the Canadian system you valorize here (a) only covers broadcast licenses, and (b) can only take action after the  fact, rather than having the power to require all political speech to go through them.

            (And again, Canada doesn't have freedom of the press and freedom of speech as the highest law in their land.)

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:19:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'd be fine with after-the-fact enforcement (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr SeeMore, dRefractor

              I believe the law would put the fear of God in broadcasters, and I really would love to see the U.S. v. Fox News court case.

              I'll look more into Canada - it seems to be working pretty well for them.

            •  CRTC Structure and Fox News example case (0+ / 0-)

              The CRTC is run by up to 13 full-time (including the chairman, the vice-chairman of broadcasting, and the vice-chairman of telecommunications) and six part-time commissioners appointed by the Cabinet for renewable terms of up to five years. Only full-time commissioners can participate in the decision-making process for telecommunications and all commissioners are involved in broadcasting decisions. The acting chairman is Leonard Katz, a former executive with Rogers Communications.

              Fox News case: Until 2004, the CRTC's apparent reluctance to grant a digital licence to Fox News under the same policy which made it difficult for RAI to enter the country - same-genre competition from foreign services - had angered many conservative Canadians, who believed the network was deliberately being kept out due to its perceived conservative bias, particularly given the long-standing availability of services such as CNN and BBC World in Canada. On November 18, 2004, however, the CRTC approved an application by cable companies to offer Fox News on the digital cable tier. Fox commenced broadcasting in Canada shortly thereafter.

  •  Bad idea (4+ / 0-)

    It bumps right up against the idea of prior restraint - no one in this country should want to go there.
    Thing is, the fourth estate is supposed to be a kind of public fact-checking organization - they're supposed to speak the truth, expose the hidden and correct the false.
    They don't, because they've become much more a corporate entity - one so cripplingly afraid of offending half their potential audience (read: ratings) by being called "liberal" that they'd rather turn themselves into giant, breathing megaphones for anyone who wants to shout ideological nonsense up their ass.
    Look at the "political discourse" on CNN on a given day - it's horse races and cockfights, empty entertainment that does nothing to sort fact from fiction. Their professional ancestors, who saw journalism as a calling first, a business second, would be horrified at the state of it.
    But no Ministry of Truth could ever take its place. That's why it was important enough to put freedom of the press right in the First Amendment. If the media is broken, and stays broken, there's no replacement that will ever work.

    "Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away." - Elvis Presley

    by Jaxpagan on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:11:42 AM PDT

  •  why can't libel laws be used against campaigns? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GregOrr, bmcphail

    technically they could be used, but you'd have to prove that the other side knew the ad was completely false, and it would take a long time to go through the legal process.

    I think Congress could maybe craft a more stringent and Constitutionally acceptable limit to lying in ads. There would have to be summary judgement (rather than a trial), in order to pull the ads before too much damage is done.

  •  I have long thought this was the solution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GregOrr

    to the problem of too much money. Require ads to be honest and accurate.  Even if you allowed false ads to run but required that they be trailed by a correction ad immediately, then the SCOTUS couldn't complain and the effect of the ad would be diminished, if not eliminated.  In fact, maybe those who run these ads would start to be outed and that might stop it.

    I think this idea has to be looked at seriously.

  •  Politics and the truth are opposite things. (0+ / 0-)

    Truth is savaged by politics (lying is protested free speech, free speech telling the truth about things gets a gag order)

    Politics can have absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth. Truth is the end of politics. Politics is a fancy form of lying.

    Yes, that's how I see it; no, I'd NEVER run for office because I am not interested in compromises nor am I interested in lying to get what I want.

    Fact-checking would be the end of American Politics as we know it.

    Which wouldn't be a bad thing, at least for normal, real people who won't have a train of scams to lose out on.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:32:29 AM PDT

  •  So if the Fox News types get some "fact checkers" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Actuary4Change

    to say that climate change is a lie, they can prevent anyone from airing ads about the environment.

    ummm no.

    Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

    by Fickle on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:45:03 AM PDT

    •  The media outlets wouldn't be the fact-finders (0+ / 0-)

      It would be some public organization, e.g., the FCC.

      •  And who would make the decisions... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fickle, Actuary4Change

        ...on what people comprised the staff of this fact-checking organization?

        Ultimately, that call would be made by a political figure—which would give one party the power to decide the truth.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 12:03:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What is a fact? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GregOrr, Actuary4Change

    I mean, lets ignore the stuff like whether Romney lied or not, but is Global Warming a FACT? Is evolution? Do we want to limit what can be said about these things because they're only theories?

    Then there's the concept of what's "true" in a political campaign. Politifact is saying that the DNC "lied" because Romney says that he will not tax the middle class, although all the math and numbers say that he cannot do everything he's saying he will do. So how much will we be allowed to judge a person by their history (say flip flopping) vs their promises?

    Its a good idea in theory, but I just don't think it'd work. And although I doubt this is what you meant, it does have an Orwellian 1984 feel to it.

    Interested in learning about math, probability, or Computer Science and their connections to the real world? Learn more at my site: http://www.learninglover.com, or visit me on Twitter: @MindAfterMath

    by LEARNINGlover on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:48:54 AM PDT

  •  Politicians in office will never constrain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fickle

    themselves in this way.

    Congress also has a long history of exempting themselves from laws.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 11:52:46 AM PDT

    •  This wouldn't constrain the ones in office... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nextstep, Actuary4Change

      ...as much it would constrain their challengers.

      The party in power would get to decide who the fact-checkers would be who could ban certain political speech as "false"—and would thus have the power to completely shut down the campaigns of anyone who challenged them.

      No, it's not politicians' self-interest that's keeping a bill like this at bay; it's the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      There is no shortage of incumbent politicians who would jump at the chance to ban their challengers' political speech from the airwaves.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 12:08:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the 1st Amendment is just fine as is, thx (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GregOrr, Fickle, Actuary4Change

    It's maddening, it's scurrilous, it's propaganda, it sucks, and every speck of ink, every electron, every decibel is 100% protected political speech.

    It is also child's play compared to the slanderous, hateful bigotry, lies, and invective of 19th century U.S. elections!

    !! Four more years !!

    by raincrow on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 12:46:30 PM PDT

    •  A corporate broadcaster doesn't have free speech (0+ / 0-)

      A corporation shouldn't be able to broadcast false and misleading information to the public. When Fox News says free speech, free speech, we say sorry not for a corporation with a broadcast license to public airwaves.

      •  FNC isn't broadcasting on public airwaves. (0+ / 0-)

        Fox News Channel is broadcast over privately-owned cable networks—which would require Congress to clear a significantly higher bar in order to be able to regulate the speech on them.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 04:35:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK - Simply limit corporate speech (0+ / 0-)

          Corporations can't spread false and misleading information through mass media

          •  Freedom of the press... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GregOrr, raincrow

            ...is also part of the First Amendment.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:15:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmm, interesting conundrum (0+ / 0-)

              I'm going to look more into this Canadian example.

            •  Freedom of Expression in Canada (0+ / 0-)

              Canadian Charter says "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: ... freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication."

              It is simply construed that "freedom" of the press does not include the spreading false and misleading news. When you have a constitutional law and a statutory law on the books that appear as if they might conflict depending on interpretation, you can simply limit the statutory law to the extent necessary so that it doesn't conflict with the constitutional law.

          •  "Simply" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GregOrr

            Define this "simple" process, please!

            !! Four more years !!

            by raincrow on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 12:00:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We all know that freedom is limited (0+ / 0-)

              Freedom is limited in that we can't violate the rights of others. Can't shoot, maim, assault, steal from, defraud, defame, breach ... We are a free country and yet we are not free in the specific sense of being allowed to do whatever we want. There is freedom of the press, and yet the press is not free to spread false and misleading news.

              •  YES, the press IS free to spread false and (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GregOrr

                misleading news right up to the ill-defined and discomfiting edge of incitement. YES, the press is free to spend billion$$$$ propagandizing the populace. Of the three Superman Principles -- "Truth, justice, and the American way" -- only one of them is constitutionally protected, and it ain't "truth."

                You might be able to persuade the gov that particular instantiations of AM Hate Radio should not be on our publicly leased airwaves if you can prove a causal chain from their broadcasts to violence; and you might be able to force liars to print their lies on paper from trees that were not cut on federal lands. Other than that, you've got bupkiss, zero, nada, zip.

                Again I will ask you: define "simple" in this context, i.e., what simple path is open to you to try to change the First Amendment to establish truth testing along with the appropriate checks and balances?

                !! Four more years !!

                by raincrow on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 01:01:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think the simple path leads back from incitement (0+ / 0-)

                  If you admit the press is not free to incite as they please, that's a step along the path. Corporations should not be free to spread false and misleading news, and that is consistent with freedom of the press.

                  •  Sorry but no simple path (0+ / 0-)

                    Start with:
                    https://en.wikipedia.org/...

                    And for a 3rd time -- the 2nd time in this thread -- I will ask you: define "simple" in this context, i.e., what simple path is open to you to try to change the First Amendment to establish truth testing along with the appropriate checks and balances?

                    And again I will ask: Who gets to be on the Truth Commission? Who gets to choose and how often? How are defective members of the commission identified and removed?

                    Until you can begin to answer these questions --

                    i.e., until you can invent the philosophical concept of "corporate spread of false and misleading news"; set forth with particularity how "corporate false and misleading news" can be recognized; set forth with particularity a mechanism for proving its presence beyond a reasonable doubt, determining who the injured party(s) is (hence, who has redress in court), and assessing the degree of damage caused so commensurate punishment can be justly determined; and then begin the job of persuading citizens to take up your cause
                    -- you might as well be asserting that unicorns should not be free to engage in public hiphop dancing.

                    I look forward to your diary fleshing all this out. Until then, cheerio.

                    !! Four more years !!

                    by raincrow on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 11:39:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Election AD-fatigue itself needs more airing! (0+ / 0-)

    AD-fatigue can be a good thing. "Yes, you've read this correctly!"

    AD-fatigue can mean we've reclaimed our rational minds esp. on the content of the GOPs ADs; that is it's the GOPs modus-operandi is to "short circuit" our rational minds and evoke nothing more than foolish "knee-jerk" reactions.

    In short, it's best to refresh the topic of AD-fatigue; a topic that needs to resonate above.....all of the election-year propaganda!  
       

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