The Eclectic Quill

July 16, 2008

Introducing the Fudge Index

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 7:04 pm

Fact checking has become a common thing in the election process, and it’s a good thing.  I see or read these fact checks where they compare candidate A to candidate B. Candidate A says that candidate B is child porn watching pedophile, in truth he’s been a member of the Big Brother program.  Then everyone says, yeah that’s a big lie he shouldn’t have done that. Then they feel the need to balance that lie with one by candidate B to even things out and show they aren’t bias. So then they illustrate this by saying "Candidate B says that he grew up in a blue house, in truth it was more of a Periwinkle." Then it sort of comes out like, well they both failed the fact check it’s all even up. But the thing is, it’s not even because all lies are not equal.

Sometimes the fact checks in an effort to appear unbiased feel they need to find problems on both sides. The problem this causes is that all "fact checks" aren’t created equal. But there’s a whole variety of lies out there. There’s everything from interpretive lies to hyperbole to bold faced lies.  So now, I introduce to you the "Fudge Index." I will monitor the various fact checks and determine a Fudge Factor based on the Fudge Meter. The  Fudge Index will be the sum of the Fudge Factors. The Fudge Meter will use the following guidelines. If the "fudge" is an honest difference in interpretation then it  gets a "0".  Exaggeration gets you around a 2 or 3. Outright hyperbole nets you a 5. An outright lie gets you a 7 or 8. An outright lie about the other candidate gets you a 10. Also, the seriousness of the topic of the lie will be taken into account.  Lies about major policy won’t be getting the same score as half truths about childhood memories (like which concentration camp your uncle helped liberate).

I’m going to take the fact checks since the beginning of July and each of the following ones and maintain the total of the fudge factors over the course of that time to find out what kind of disparity there is in presenting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In the interest of  not plagiarizing I’ve merely linked the stories. You have to read the details of the fudge by clicking the link. Also any recantation of a lie will result in a correction in the Fudge Index depending on the accuracy and exposure of the  fudge correction. Also I will only include ads by the candidates and their partys. I won’t hold them accountable for independent groups.

So without further ado let’s look at some of the fudge.

Obama has a "fast-track" alternative to oil.

Actually here the fact check is wrong. The advertisement transcript says:

As president, he’ll rebuild our alliances to take out terrorist networks… And fast-track alternatives so we stop spending billions on oil from hostile nations.

The add says "he’ll…fast-track alternatives," not that he "has a fast-track alternative." The difference is that of verb or adjective.  He is not saying that he already has a solution but that he will prioritize research. So in this one there’s no fudging. This gets 0 FUDGE POINTS .

Fudge Index: Obama 0, McCain 0

McCain’s Small-Business Bunk

McCain’s exaggeration of 23 million is beyond  exaggeration, it’s sincere hyperbole! He gets a five for that and an extra point for saying it  about Obama. He gets another point for repeating so many times. 7 FUDGE POINTS

Fudge Index: Obma 0, McCain 7

A False Accusation About Energy

This one has a few points.

  • No New Solutions?–Because this one is  so easily knowable , because it is so blatant, because McClain’s own plan is far less extensive than what the ad accuses Obama off, and because it is about Obama, this one maxes out the Fudge Meter with a 10
  • No Nuclear Energy–While this one is demonstrated to be blatantly untrue it does have the redeeming grace that McCain is actually have more of a plan on nuclear power (this isn’t reviewing the policy, just the degree of truthfulness of the presentation of things) than Obam this one only gets an 8 on the Fudge Mete r.
  • No to More Production-This one is actually true. There’s a sort of hidden lie involved in that it suggests that more production is a solution. This one though is more along the lines of exaggeration than lie. It gets 2 Fudge Points .
  • Total Fudge points for this add, 20 .

Fudge Index: Obama 0, McCain 27.

The McCain campaign falsely claims that Obama voted to raise income taxes on individuals earning "as little as $32,000 per year."

This one is again an incredulous statement. It’s provably wrong and actually malicious in its attempt to deceive.  No one can convince me that the $32,000 mistake here was an honest one. This gets another 10 on the Fudge Meter.

Fudge Index: Obama 0, McCain 37

Errors en Español

I’ll count all the Florida export fudges as one fudge. Essentially while things are exaggerated I think if the actual numbers were there it wouldn’t cause the ad to lose a tremendous amount of impact. I’ll give this one an Índice chapuza of 3.

Fudge Index: Obama 0, McCain 40

Tax Tally Trickery

The sheer magnitude and audacity of this one gains it a 10. If you didn’t click on the link you should. It’s  flat out prevarication. Fudge Meter: 10

Fudge Index: Obama 0, McCain 50

Obama’s Work Claim

I found this one to be a little on the nitpicky side. First it’s sort of irrelevant. It’s about his college, and whether he paid for loans afterwards through repaying loans or paid his tuition upfront it doesn’t change  really change anything. On that part I can’t really give him anything on the Fudge Meter. However on the second point, about what he accomplished, there’s some exaggeration there in Obama taking too much credit for it. Still, it’s pretty common campaigning practic. It falls in the realm of exaggeration, not quite reaching to the level of hypberbole or lie. Fudge Factor 3.

Fudge Index: Obama 3, McCain 50

So in the end it looks like one candidate is having a lot more problem with the truth than the other.

Edit: Giving credit where credit is due… I emailed about their error in reference to the Fast Track being a verb and not an adjective. The responded by at least correcting the error in language. They hold that the implication is still there of an immediate solution. I disagree, after all, why would you fast track a solution you already have? Were that the solution I believe the word would be implement, not fast-track.



  1. Look at it this way, at least McCain covered the spread!

    Insert picture of McCain with an eerily reminiscent smirk. He keeps it positive too!

    I never understood why a lie in politics is looked at as “creating a positive image”.

    Comment by Tim — July 16, 2008 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  2. MCCain has indicated that he’ll continue a lot of bush’s policies. why should lying be any different.

    Comment by ShakySpker — July 16, 2008 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  3. Wow. Guess we should vote on an honest politician this fall, huh? If Obama wins, and a with the Democratic majority in Congress, by the time he terms out living in America will be just like living in France – minus the wine and smelly cheese, of course.

    Comment by Bob T — July 17, 2008 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  4. Bob,

    Bill O’Reilly appelé et il veut son retour blague.

    Comment by kelly — July 17, 2008 @ 11:58 am | Reply

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