Jacob Fulton | Staff Writer
In politics, especially when it comes to this year’s election, facts trump everything-including Trump himself. And in a press conference at the Indiana University Journalism Institute on July 12, Joshua Gillin demonstrated just that.
Gillin works for PolitiFact, a news group that takes comments politicians make and fact-checks them against other sources, rating them based on honesty. In fact, approximately 40 percent of registered voters use or have heard of PolitiFact to some extent. They cover national politics, as well as local politics in 18 different states, ranging from Ohio to Florida. Gillin himself resides in Florida, but has also done national news coverage.
After explaining about himself and the company, Gillin opened up the floor to the audience. A big question that came up was the true intent of PolitiFact. Are they trying to expose politicians as a sham, or just give people the facts to make a clear decision? Gillin made the claim that it wasn’t as cut-and-dry as it seemed.
“The problem with that is that delivering information often exposes someone,” Gillin said.
He goes on to imply that the intent of the website may be to present the facts, but by presenting the truth it can be taken as wanting to expose someone, causing some conflict with readers.
Because the line between the two is so shaded, many readers feel that PolitiFact is biased, therefore boycotting the site. Gillin knows that some of his readership disagree with him, and addressed the matter.
“We never want to write anybody off, that’s why we keep doing this,” said Gillin. “We can’t change either side’s mind, but we have the independent side too. That’s who we’re trying to reach the most.”
He also said that the main focus of PolitiFact is to assist confused voters looking to find out the truth about what the candidates stand for, not to change voters’ minds. And in the pursuit of truth, no measure is too far.
During this presidential race, Donald Trump has banned many publications from his events because he doesn’t like what they’re saying about him. Gillin has said that his publication has no fear of that.
“It’s not a concern,” said Gillin. “We just want to get the facts, and often we try to talk to people to get them to defend their statements. Sometimes you find out they’re shading things, sometimes they were right.”
When working for an organization such as PolitiFact, you end up knowing more than you might want about politics. An audience member inquired as to whether this would make voting harder or easier. According to Gillin, it can be disheartening, but also helps him make the right decision.
“There’s kind of like a depression that sets in, because you see this and you realize that it’s always been like this,” Gillin said. “It gets pretty disheartening. But the right information is out there, an unbiased opinion that helps you figure out what to do.”