When it comes to fact-checking, where you get your information is not as important as trusting it. We've combed through a variety of sites and found a good number of them that have consistently provided information that is defensible by public records, data and recorded media. While there are plenty that could've made the list, we shortened them down to these five sites over two factors: A strong consistent research process on the most newsworthy claims and the accuracy of evidence used to either backup or debunk the claims.
Launched in 2007, the website started as the brainchild of the Tampa Bay Times and provides a yearly featurette titled "Lie Of The Year". It is often quoted by political reporters in big news networks to quickly research alleged claims with friendly ratings of True, Half True, Half False, Mostly False, False and the infamous Pants of Fire (to denote the most ridiculous of claims).
Why you can trust it
Politifact asks itself 5 questions before deciding to research a statement being made - one of which is "would a typical person hear or read the statement and wonder: is that true?" If yes, Politifact pays attention to 5 principals which include putting statements in context. As for assigning the rating to the actual assertion, panel of at least three editors provide the final answer as True, False or something in between. PolitiFact has won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for "its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters." The site has been both praised and criticized by independent observers, conservatives and liberals alike. The Tampa Bay Times, which owns Politifact, was owned by Nelson Poyter but ended up selling it to a non-profit newspaper organization.
Think a slightly older version of Politifact minus the ratings. FactCheck.org is the non-profit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. It has no connections with former CEOs of corporations, Wall Street or the like. Instead, it is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation. That foundation is currently headed by Wallis Annenberg, the daughter of Walter Annenberg, who was best known for creating the paper magazine *TV Guide. *When Walter's father encountered scandals in the 1930s, a significant part of his adult life was dedicated to rehabilitating the family's name through philanthropy and public service.
Why you can trust it
To date, FactCheck has not seeked and has never accepted directly or indirectly, any funds from corporations, unions, partisan organizations or advocacy groups. How do we know this? FactCheck.org has been transparent about its funding sources. It has gone as far as showing a detailed breakdown of financial support every quarter - the same standard expected of political campaigns and party committees which you can check out for yourself.
OpenSecrets is appropriately named as it covers a topic not covered enough in mainstream media - money's influence on U.S. elections and public policy. The site regularly updates its database concerning interest groups, lobbyists, Super PACs and other powerful organizations. It even gets down and dirty by allowing interested citizens to search by donor or search by ZIP codes to learn how their neighbors are allocating their political contributions. They also have a cool slogan.
"Money Talks. We Translate."
Aside from the pure financial data it provides, its News and Analysis section contains comprehensive reports that range from wealth inequality to how specific Supreme Court decisions were influenced.
Why you can trust itOpenSecrets.org has been around since 1996 which is part of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). The CRP was founded in 1983 by retired U.S. Senators Frank Church (D) and Hugh Scott (R). CRP maintains a list of donors and their amounts that is never more than a year old. While a string of Webby awards may not convince you of its reliability, its work is cited by the largest networks and newspapers. "Being accurate and nonpartisan in our research are our top goals," it claims. "Since our reputation rests on that. The original source of most of our data is the federal government." CRP also admits that although inaccuracies may result, they try to be vigilant with their errors and correct them when discovered.
What started out as a pet project of researching urban legends has turned into high traffic rumor debunking site. Created in 1995, Barbara and David Mikkelson, a California couple who met in the an online urban myth newsgroup. Combined with over two decades of writing and research experience, the Mikkelsons has pushed Snopes.com to reach a high Alexa ranking which suggests the site receives more than 10 million unique visitors per month. the Since then, the site has grown With over 20 years' experience as a professional researcher and writer, David has created in snopes.com what has come to be regarded as an online touchstone of rumor research.
Why you can trust itSnopes is equally hated by every group from every side imaginable and describes itself as "a completely independent, self-sufficient entity wholly owned by its operators and funded through advertising revenues."
Our other choice, FactCheck did its due diligence with Snopes. In its findings, Barbara was a Canadian citizen, which negated her to vote in US elections while and David was an independent who was once registered as a Republican. In 2012, The Florida Times-Union reported that About.com's urban legends researcher found a "consistent effort to provide even-handed analyses" and that Snopes' cited sources and numerous reputable analyses of its content confirm its accuracy.
If you truly want to know exactly how the government spends its money from a high level, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has your back. Be prepared to be inundated by all the information it presents (not to mention understanding it). The CBO has some produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues that go well beyond simply presenting results to Member of Congress. It applies a rigorous review process to its analysis at different levels in the organization and by outside experts who specialize at the issues at hand.
Why you can trust itBecause the entire government does.
The agency often responds to questions from Members of Congress about the methods used in its analyses. Additionally, CBO’s analysts also spend a great deal of time meeting with interested Members of Congress and their staffs to explain the details underlying cost estimates and reports.
Interested parties who want to know more about CBO's transparency can actually go through its background reports and working papers.