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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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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