The rhetoric of fact-checking

Today’s lesson is transitional; we move away from the granular fact-checking we did in Unit 1, and take a step back to ask some of the more difficult questions of the course. Let’s begin by taking a look at the Unit 2 description.

On the rhetoric of fact-checking

We begin by considering the rhetoric of fact-checking as it is framed in the third chapter from Dana Cloud’s 2018 book, Reality Bites: Rhetoric and the Circulation of Truth Claims in U.S. Political Culture. This chapter is part of a more robust argument about how truth and reality get established in US political culture. I have an activity planned below that will get us to engage with some this, but before we do, let me ask: which part of this chapter best represents Cloud’s main point? Find this part in the text and be ready to read it to us.

How did you find that point? How did you annotate? Did you draw from your close-reading strategies or marginalia?

Activity: Let’s spend some of our time trying to unpack this chapter by looking more closely at specific moments from the text. For your assigned section, I want you to use your marginal annotations and work with your group to create a collaborative slidedeck in Google Slides that captures the 3 of the most important moments from that section. Each slide should include:
(1) text — a quote, paraphrase, or mix somewhere (with page number) and,
(2) images — (at least one) that us compelling & amplifies the moment.

Group 1: Intro and “The Explosion of Fact-Checking” (52-56)
Group 2: “The Complexity of Falsehood” & “A Quantitative Mode of Propaganda” (56-59)
Group 3: “Alternative Critical Approaches” (59-63)
Group 4: “Frame Checking the Abortion Video Controversy” (64-69)
Group 5: “Fact-Checkers’ Responses” & “Alternative Framing Strategies” (69-73)

Photo of the last page in Caloud’s chapter with annotations from Luther after three passes (i.e. reading it three times).

Homework for next class

Use the marginal approach to annotate chapters from Roberts-Miller’s book: the short introduction, Chapter III (“What Demagoguery Is”) and IV (“How Demagoguery Works”).