Fact-Checking Made Easy

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Here’s an interesting tidbit from “News War,” the new Frontline documentary that begins tonight on PBS (read our review here). How can you tell if a government leak is true? Simple — see if the FBI starts a leak investigation.

Below, Frontline’s Lowell Bergman interviews former FBI counterintelligence director David Szady:

BERGMAN: How do you conduct [FBI leak investigations]…?

SZADY: Well, first of all, you have a victim agency, the owner of the information, those who classified it. What they have to do is file a report, which consists of 11 questions, and those questions go from was the material properly classified, was the information that was leaked accurate compared to what the actual classified information is?

BERGMAN: The information has to be accurate?

SZADY: Yes.

BERGMAN: So when the government announces a leak investigation and it comes to your office, it’s confirming that the report in the newspaper, for example, or on television, was true.

SZADY: Yes. Indirectly, yes.

BERGMAN: That’s one way to fact-check. [LAUGHTER]

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Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

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