Source: Chloe Lim, May 17, 2018
Journalists now regularly trumpet fact-checking as an important tool to hold politicians accountable for their public statements, but fact checking’s effect has only been assessed anecdotally and in experiments on politicians holding lower-level offices. Using a rigorous research design to estimate the effects of fact-checking on presidential candidates, this paper shows that a fact-checker deeming a statement false false causes a 9.5 percentage points reduction in the probability that the candidate repeats the claim. To eliminate alternative explanations that could confound this estimate, I use two types of difference-in-differences analyses, each using true-rated claims and “checkable but unchecked” claims, a placebo test using hypothetical fact-check dates, and a topic model to condition on the topic of the candidate’s statement. This paper contributes to the literature on how news media can hold politicians accountable, showing that when news organizations label a statement as inaccurate, they affect candidate behavior.