City Cast

How to Fact-Check Political Ads

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on October 24, 2022   |   Updated on July 7
Dupont Circle newspaper stands. (Wayan Vota/Flickr)

Dupont Circle newspaper stands. (Wayan Vota/Flickr)

There are no regulations requiring that political advertisements are truthful. So, how do you know if the information is trustworthy?

Before believing or sharing a political ad, experts recommend asking: 

  1. How are claims in ads supported?
  2. What’re the sources the ad references?
  3. Do the images look manipulated?
  4. Are there quotes that might be taken out of context?

The Political Advertising Literacy group put together a guide so voters can critically examine political ads. (You can also test your knowledgewith this quiz; I failed miserably)

Need practice? Here’s a D.C. example:

There has been a lot of information (and misinformation) floating around about I-82 – the initiative to do away with tipped minimum wage. This site, for example, claims that I-82 is “threatening to reduce pay”, leading voters to believe it will lower the wage. That’s inaccurate.

Further investigation shows that the site is funded by Sam LeBlanc, a financial consultant to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. You can form your own opinion by reading the actual initiative, or seeking out a trusted news source (like our pod episode on this!).

Still not sure what to believe? You can always ask, which will check the factual accuracy of an ad for you. 

❓ What do you think the most memorable local political ads of past and present are?

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