Fact checking candidates.

UVa’s Cavalier Daily has a great editorial today, on the topic of candidate accountability. It reads, in part:

If a candidate misleads in a debate and no one calls him on it, does the public make a sound? Judging by the July 16 encounter between gubernatorial candidates Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine, the answer is a resounding no. It was during that untelevised tête-à-tête that Kilgore asserted four times that while Kaine was mayor of Richmond, he oversaw the “second-worst performing school system in the entire Commonwealth.” That would be a good sound bite, if it weren’t atrociously deceiving. The unchecked manner in which both candidates have been flinging spin borders on subterfuge and drives home the need for far more honesty from both campaigns as well as a far more proactive media to keep both campaigns honest.

Yes, Jerry Kilgore was “reckless” (to borrow from his vocabulary) with the truth at the debate a couple of weeks ago, and this Richmond schools matter is just one example. But what I’m more interested in is what the Cavalier Daily asks: What is the role of the press, and of citizens, in fact-checking the claims of candidates? Democratic blogs have been relentless in fact-checking Kilgore’s claims at the debates, but if Tim Kaine said anything untrue, nobody’s called him on it. Is it possible that he was totally accurate in fully 90 minutes of debating? Or are we — the collective “we” — just not doing our job in checking up on candidates’ claims?

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »