Consider the source – if it exists

    No serious journalist would run a story quoting an anonymous investor in Bain capital saying Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years.

    But when the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate does it, it’s apparently different.

    U.S. Sen. Harry Reid said he had inside information about Romney not paying taxes last week, and kept repeating the charge in increasingly public ways. It’s a measure of our obsession with anything about the presidential race that this has gotten such currency. It practically provoked fist fights on the Sunday talk shows.

    For the record, the independent fact-checking organization PolitiFact ran Reid’s charge through its Truth-o-Meter and gave it a “Pants on Fire” untrue rating. Read their analysis here.

    Just how rich is the Walmart clan?

    Another fascinating check by PolitiFact is the claim by Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders that “today the Walton family of Walmart own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America.”

    Is it possible that a handful of people own more than the collective holdings of 49 million families?

    PolitiFact finds the claim is true. But remember that this isn’t the same thing as saying the Waltons make more money than 49 million families. The comparison is accumulated wealth, not income. And obviously a lot of people at the bottom of the economy have little if any wealth.

    The Walton’s total wealth, by the way: $103 billion, give or take. Read the PolitiFact analysis here.

    I hope by the time the next Philadelphia mayor’s race comes around, there’s a local fact-checking organization to blow the whistle on our own mendacious manipulators.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.