Fact-checkers rate claims false, misleading, unsupported, or true
based on their evaluation of the arguments

Table of Contents

  1. Fact-checking
  2. Ratings
  3. Examples
    1. False
    2. Misleading
    3. Unsupported
    4. True
  4. Fact-checking Sites
  5. Rating Systems, Principles, and Methods
  6. Burden of Proof and Standard of Evidence
  7. What evidence do you have? Factcheck.org
  8. Fact-checks of 2020
  9. Fact-checks of Trump’s Claims
  10. Lies or Bullshit
  11. Manipulated Video


Fact-checkers rate claims false, misleading, unsupported, or true based on evaluating the arguments.


  • False = claim is disproved
  • Misleading = claim is established but apt to mislead
  • Unsupported = claim is not established
  • True = claim is established and not apt to mislead


  • Does China Pay Tariffs? (factcheck.org)
    • Claim
      • Trump, Feb. 25: “Now, China is paying us, right now, billions and billions of dollars of tariffs a month.  Every month, billions of dollars. I love it. Personally, I love it. But they’re paying billions of dollars.  And it’s hurting them; it’s not good for them.”
    • Fact-check
      • The tariffs are taxes paid by U.S. importers in the form of customs duties, and to some extent by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices.
      • But to say that “China is paying us” is not just an oversimplification — it’s wrong.
  • Trump Falsely Says COVID-19 Surge ‘Only’ Due to Testing, Misleads on Deaths (factcheck.org)
    • As we have noted before, Trump is wrong to say that testing is the only reason why cases are increasing in the U.S. On the contrary, data from some of the places being hardest hit shows that the case numbers are outpacing any increases in testing, since the percentage of positive tests is climbing — sometimes dramatically so. In Arizona, for example, the seven-day average for the test positivity rate, as analyzed by Johns Hopkins University, is now 23%, up from around 7% in mid-May.
    • Some areas are also seeing increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, which should not occur if additional testing is the only driver of more coronavirus cases.
  • Trump Inherited More Ventilators Than Have Been Distributed (factcheck.org)
    • Contrary to President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that he inherited a Strategic National Stockpile with “empty” or “bare” cupboards, the federal government had more ventilators in stock than it ended up distributing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FactCheck.org has learned.
    • The SNS had 16,660 ventilators “immediately available for use” when the federal government began deploying the breathing machines to states to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients in March, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson.
    • None of those ventilators was bought by the Trump administration, the spokesperson told us.
    • In a separate email to us on June 17, another HHS spokesperson said the federal government has distributed 10,640 ventilators during the pandemic
  • Fact-checking the ‘final arguments’ of Biden and Trump, WaPo Fact-Checker, Nov 2, 2020
    • Trump said:
      • “You see the number today? 33.1 GDP. The biggest in the history of our country by almost triple, right? Almost triple. Now it’s very much bigger than any GDP we’ve ever had. You have to go back to the 1950s, and then it’s less than half. This is the greatest number, 33.1 percent.”
    • Trump is using the last major economic report before the election — an estimate of gross domestic product in the third quarter — to claim that the U.S. economy is on the mend after the shutdowns caused by the pandemic.
    • The GDP rose 7.4 percent in the third quarter, which is indeed a record. It certainly is an improvement over the stunning 9 percent decline in GDP during the second quarter. (Trump’s figure of 33.1 percent is an annualized figure and is pretty misleading in this context. The key fact is that the GDP was 7.4 percent higher than in the second quarter.)
    • But for the economy to recover all that was lost in the previous quarter, third-quarter GDP needed to have surged by 10 percent.
    • As it stands, economic output now is 3.5 percent below the last pre-pandemic quarter. Another way to put it: The United States has recovered only about 66 percent of its pre-coronavirus losses. So, despite Trump’s happy talk, the United States is still in a deep recession.
  • Unsupported MLK Claim Circulates Again (factcheck.org)
    • Claim
      • Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican.
    • Fact-check
      • The unsupported assertion that King was a Republican has cropped up numerous times, sometimes citing King’s niece, Alveda King, who once declared her uncle was a Republican.
  • Trump’s Claims About Hunter Biden in China (factcheck.org)
    • President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Hunter Biden, without evidence, of making millions of dollars in a “payoff” from China, after accompanying his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, on a 2013 diplomatic trip to Beijing.
    • The claim involves a cross-border private equity fund involving some state-owned financial companies in China. Biden served on the management company’s board while his father was vice president, but his attorney says that was an unpaid position, that he did not create the company and has not yet received any money, let alone millions. The attorney says Hunter Biden only acquired a minority stake in the investment management company after his father left office.
    • We have found no evidence to contradict that, and Trump hasn’t provided any. We also found no evidence that Joe Biden used his position as vice president to enrich his son.
  • Trump hits pay dirt with claim on Wisconsin’s low unemployment (politifact)
  • Claim
    • “The unemployment rate for Wisconsin workers has reached historic lows,” Trump told the crowd. “It’s never been this low before, ever, ever, ever.”
  • Fact-check
    • The available data backs up his claim that Wisconsin hasn’t had a lower unemployment rate to its 2.9 percent.
    • We rate Trump’s claim True.

Fact-checking Sites

PolitiFact: Around the Web

Rating Systems, Principles, and Methods

Burden of Proof and Standard of Evidence

What evidence do you have?

  • It’s a simple question, one that we ask candidates, campaigns and political committees all the time: “What evidence do you have?” 
  • That’s why we were heartened to see NBC’s Lester Holt ask Trump “what evidence do you have” to support two of Trump’s claims in a June 22 speech that we and other fact-checkers found contained numerous false claims.
  • In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump claimed that Clinton’s email server had been hacked?  Lester Holt asked “What evidence do you have?”
  • When that didn’t elicit a response, Holt asked again, “But is there any evidence that it was hacked other than routine phishing?” Trump finally said that he heard or read about Clinton’s email being successfully hacked. Asked where he got that information, Trump said, “I will report back to you. I’ll give it to you.”
  • We would like to see more TV news anchors challenge the presidential candidates on statements that fact-checkers universally agree are false and misleading, especially those that are made without any evidence. It just takes a simple question, “What evidence do you have?”

Fact-checks of 2020

Fact-checks of Trump’s Claims

Lies or Bullshit

  • On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt
    • “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

Manipulated Video

View Manipulated Video