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About PoliGraph

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Updated October 2012

Politicians always have a lot to say about their records, each other and policy issues affecting the state.

But are they always telling the truth, sticking to the facts and providing accurate context?

PoliGraph is a fact-checking feature that gets behind the spin in politics, telling you who's citing verifiable, contextual data and who's not.

Why PoliGraph?

Many news stories feature one politician making a statement and another disagreeing. Oftentimes, unfortunately, reporters don't have time to verify what the candidates are saying. That leaves voters to decide who's right and who's wrong.

PoliGraph does the truth-seeking. Expect to see everyone — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — put to the PoliGraph test.

Here's how it works:

Each week, PoliGraph takes an in-depth look at political claims made by members of all three parties and checks them against neutral sources for accuracy. We have four basic criteria for choosing statements to check.

1. We choose statements that can be verified with sound data, and through research and interviews with experts. We don't assess statements of opinion.

2. We choose statements that are reflected in the news in one way or another. For instance, if the state Legislature is debating a particularly controversial bill, we'll look at claims being made about that legislation.

3. We tend to focus on statements that are central to a political debate and/or a candidate's political platform or message. We also look at statements that voters are hearing a lot, for instance claims about the health care law.

4. Finally, claims that pique our curiosity are always fair game. 

Then, PoliGraph sets out to discern whether a statement is true, false or taken out of context. Our reporting adheres to the tenets of the best journalism: thorough reporting, research from primary sources, interviews with subject experts and independent, non-partisan analysis.

PoliGraph puts the findings into short, clear explanations accompanied with a rating — accurate, misleading, false or inconclusive.

• Accurate: These claims are entirely or mostly true. They include important details and are supported by the facts.

• Misleading: These statements leave out key information, are exaggerated, or have been taken out of context.

• False: These claims are not true or misleading to the point of being false.

• Inconclusive: This rating typically applies to projections or estimates. While such claims could be true under certain circumstances, more information is needed.

Who Works on PoliGraph?

MPR News reporter Catharine Richert writes PoliGraph. She is a political policy wonk who worked previously at PolitiFact.com and Congressional Quarterly. Richert, who also reports on MPR News' Capitol View blog, has a master's degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College. Most Friday afternoons, you can hear Richert talk about her latest PoliGraph reporting on All Things Considered.  

Mike Mulcahy, MPR News' political editor, directs and edits the feature.