US politicians, ranked by their willingness to lie

Angie Drobnic Holan, of the respected, nonpartisan factchecking org Politifact has an editorial in the New York Times about the record levels of falsehood in the GOP race, an outlier in a general increase in the literal factualness of political campaigns, thanks to fact-checking orgs like hers.

But the showstopper in the piece is a chart that ranks the current political frontrunners from the GOP and Democratic Party by the number of lies they've been caught telling. Ben Carson edges out Trump at the top of the chart, while Bill Clinton is right at the bottom.

The chart has a sampling bias problem. An organization that's only been checking facts since 2007 will have had fewer data-points on Bill Clinton than one that started in, say, 1992. It's also not clear what triggers a check of a claim by a political figure, apart from general controversiality — so what we're really seeing is the "eye-catching lies" as opposed to a thorough census of all the falsehoods uttered by a given politico.

Even though we're in the midst of a presidential campaign full of falsehoods and misstatements, I see cause for optimism. Some politicians have responded to fact-checking journalism by vetting their prepared comments more carefully and giving their campaign ads extra scrutiny.

More important, I see accurate information becoming more available and easier for voters to find. By that measure, things are pretty good.

Mr. Trump's inaccurate statements, for example, have garnered masses of coverage. His claim that he saw "thousands of people" in New Jersey cheering the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, grabbed headlines but the stories were about the rebuttals.

When Ms. Fiorina mischaracterized a video about Planned Parenthood during an early debate, it was a significant part of the post-debate coverage, while Mrs. Clinton's sometimes misleading statements about her email accounts have been generating close, in-depth scrutiny for most of 2015.

All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others. [Angie Drobnic Holan/NYT]