Now, it's certainly true that the so-called "fourth estate" -- the press -- often isn't very good at fact checking. They're especially bad at fact checking politicians, and the popular "view from nowhere" often means that rather than pointing out where a politician has lied, they feel that as long as they give "the other side" equal time, they've done their job. However, do we really need a federal fact checking agency? That appears to be the opinion of former President Bill Clinton who suggested such an agency would be a good use of taxpayer money
"Let's say the U.S. did it, it would have to be an independent federal agency that no president could countermand or anything else because people wouldn't think you were just censoring the news and giving a different falsehood out," Clinton said.
"That is, it would be like, I don't know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors" he said. "And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it's a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money."
But why would that be a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money, when others are already trying to do that? We have operations like FactCheck.org
, both run by respected operations, and both of which have done pretty well from what I've seen. Of course, this sort of thing could also already be considered part of the GAO's mandate, as it's pretty well respected for not falling for political spin in its reports, but for digging in and getting things right. Of course, that hasn't stopped much of the government from ignoring the GAO's position on things.