"Who holds politicians accountable for the statements they make on television? According to host David Gregory: Not Meet the Press," begins the new website and tool MeettheFacts.com.
The impetus for the site dates back to December when New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen took to his blog to lament the status of Sunday morning talk shows. Rosen criticized Meet the Press, and host David Gregory specifically, before recommending that all shows adopt a formal fact-checking system. The system proposed would identify, and hire, a fact checking organization to review Sunday morning content for accuracy, posting inconsistencies online for viewers to review.
Four months after the Rosen wrote about the idea on his blog, ABC's This Week teamed up with Politifact to explore Mr. Rosen's proposed model. David Gregory, the Meet the Press host, took to his Twitter account to respond to critics who wondered why Meet the Press wasn't following suit. "My view," Gregory explained, "is that I just don't think we need a formal arrangement to accomplish [fact checking]."
The creators of Meet the Facts beg to differ. The site is a product of a Facebook page started by Paul Breer, a 24-year-old college student who will be attending the University of Kansas. Shortly after the group's formation, Breer was contacted by Chas Danner, a Brooklyn journalism student who offered to help him launch a larger campaign. Between the two of them, the cost of a domain name and ten hours of time, Meet the Facts was born.
The site that resulted provides visitors with the option of tweeting, emailing, calling, or snail mailing Meet the Press producers and is the exactly the kind of thing Jay Rosen thinks can make a difference.
In an e-mail interview with Campus Progress, Rosen explains that while it wouldn't be impossible to pressure Gregory into adopting the system, it would be hard. "My sense is that [Gregory] thinks anyone who's dissatisfied with his performance is a partisan hack who wants him to be more of a partisan hack, but he's misjudged where this fact-checking thing is coming from, and where it goes. What could be more dead center in the journalistic value system than fact-checking? Nothing that I know of."
The creators of Meet the Facts agree. In an e-mail interview, Breer acknowledges the catchiness of Meet the Facts and offered to give Meet the Press ownership over the brand and the corresponding domain name and twitter account "free of charge."
"We're so serious about the cause [that] we'll give them the tools to carry it out," Breer says.
It's too soon to tell whether or not Meet the Facts will have a decisive impact, but the tool exemplifies a more interactive media environment, one in which consumers can easily protest the decisions made by newsmakers and a journalism professor can rattle the confidence placed in a program in its 62nd year of broadcasting.
"If the movement shows strength," Rosen warned "the press will have to cover it, and Gregory and his colleagues at NBC will see that."
Sara Haile-Mariam is the outreach and communications associate for Campus Progress
Originally Posted on Campusprogress.org