Fact Checkers

A string of recent political snafus have got me thinking: who’s responsible for checking facts?

As writers, it’s considered part of our job to do research. Sure, we’re allowed to stretch the truth or bend things to fit our stories, but basic things need to be true. (I’m excusing fantasy & sci-fi from this.) As with the general rules of writing, you have to know a rule, or truth, before you can break it.

So color me surprised when one political figure after another completely screws up facts that most middle-school children know. As much as it pains me, I can stomach the fact that people can’t know everything, but these politicians have advisors and staffers. In theory, someone on that staff is a fact checker.

Telling an audience that the founders of our country abolished slavery is inexcusable, especially given how easy it is to find the truth.

Thoughts? Are my expectations too high?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. Some basic things need to be true even in SF/F. πŸ˜‰

    I can’t speak for US politics, since I don’t follow it (neither do I follow UK politics, come to that). I can, however, say that I trust what comes out of ANY politician’s mouth about as much as I trust those emails claiming to enhance my… well, yeah. *cough*

    Despite my optimism, I’m a cynical bugger when it comes to such things. πŸ˜‰

    Uh, the politics, not the… Yeah.


    • I agree that most of what politicians say needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but typically our cynicism comes from them manipulating the facts, not getting them flat-out wrong.

      Thanks for the clarification on SF. πŸ™‚

  2. Perhaps they are underestimating their audience’s intelligence. Which is also a MAJOR ‘no no’ for us writers. My only exposure to what politicians are doing comes from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Love those shows!

    (Oh, and Adam’s right about fant/sci-fi. The audience might have more of a willingness to suspend disbelief, but it is very important not to push that boundary into “crazyville”.) But I know what your point was. πŸ˜€

    • I hope that’s it, and not that they are just idiots. I have a hard time accepting that people who are elected to positions with this much publicity are that uninformed. Or that their people are.

      Good point on SF. πŸ™‚ I figured if I didn’t clarify I’d have someone jumping down my throat about it.

  3. ab

    Um… off politics but my nephews HEALTH teacher tried to insist that you needed a rooster for a chicken to lay an egg. Not make a baby – just lay the egg. O.o

    Yeah… learn facts before you open your mouth. That’s why I try to keep mine shut – unless we’re on an 80’s music challenge πŸ™‚

    No – your expectations are not high. I think history should be correct & taught as such – not what we want it to be.

  4. Another idiot. For crying out loud. It’s like a woman has to be an idiot to gain a national following. (Bachman, Palin) If she’s smart, then she’s a bitch and everyone hates her. (Clinton)

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