Politico reporter Ginger Gibson shocked CNN guest media critic Frank Sesno on Sunday when she said that she didn’t bother to check facts if she was told that her sources were not telling the truth.
During a segment about the increasing role of fact checking organizations like PolitiFact, Sesno asked Gibson how members of Congress responded when they got a “pants on fire” rating.
“Their press secretaries, when it’s the other guy who’s called out, will blast out those as a press release,” Gibson explained.
“And what do you do with that?” Sesno wondered.
“Most of the time, ignore them,” Gibson admitted.
“You ignore it!” Sesno exclaimed. “Wait, wait, wait. So if someone is called a liar or is exposed in a fact check and you’re the reporter of it, you ignore that?”
“Well, we ignore it when it becomes political fighting, right?” Gibson said.
“But if someone is objectively wrong,” Sesno pressed.
“As a reporter who covered the [Romney] campaign and covers the Hill now, these fact checks are great for us because sometimes when the claim keeps getting repeated, we can point to them in a story and say, look, they’ve been deemed untrue by multiple fact checkers,” Gibson insisted. “And I think that line is important, the multiple fact checkers. When it’s multiple fact checkers agreeing, we can go to that.”
“And that’s how we use it, that’s how we call attention to things — if we’re not doing the fact checking — we know not to be true.”
During 2012 presidential race, Gibson covered Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign, whose pollster once said: “We won’t have the fact checkers dictate our campaign. We will not let the truth get in the way.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Reliable Sources, broadcast Oct. 13, 2013.