On the way to work this morning National Public Radio aired a segment about how 527 groups weren’t having much success with their attack ads this election cycle.
The story blamed attack ads’ ineffectiveness on lack of resources; in this economy, everyone is tapped out and these groups just cannot afford to air the commercials as often.
But I think they buried the lead. Only late in the piece did they quote a liberal operative who suggested that the ads aren’t effective anymore because they aren’t getting a free media ride due to Internet fact-checking.
I believe that fact explains why these attacks no longer have as much effect. People can check the facts easily. The concept of crowdsourcing is an idea born from the Internet: By putting a community as vast as those available online to work on a project or problem, you’re likely to arrive at a better solution than if only a few people were working on it.
Two heads are better than one. Or a zillion heads are better than some consultants.
So what we have with online political fact-checking is truthsourcing: Infinite resources researching the evidence (or lack thereof) to verify a given claim. With truthsourcing, you’re likely to arrive at the truth much quicker and disseminate that truth much more broadly than if you had team of researchers and a PR firm.
This is particularly true with political speech because of both the passion and the partisanship involved. Researchers are far more passionate about debunking bogus claims and, due to the over-the-top rhetoric you can find in online political forums and on blogs, people have learned to be much more skeptical about a given allegation.
As Mulder might say: The truth is out there.