'Fact Checker' columnist dishes on separating fact from fiction in debates

First GOP debate pits 10 candidates against each other

SAN ANTONIO – Glenn Kessler has been writing his "Fact Checker" column for The Washington Post since 2011 and recently talked about his process of separating fact from fiction in political debates.

The first GOP debate Thursday night will pit 10 Republican candidates against each other. With each candidate only getting one minute to respond to questions, the debate is expected to be a fast-paced war of words.

Kessler rates statements or claims by a politician, political organization or diplomat on a Pinocchio-based system, giving four Pinocchios to statements he concludes are entirely untrue. The fewer Pinnocchios, the more factual the statement.

What about the claims that do check out?

"We have the rarely given Gepetto check mark, which is for a statement that is completely true and not false in any respect," Kessler said.

So which candidate has received the most Pinnocchios?

"In Donald Trump's case, he often doesn't have anything to cite and doesn't seem to particularly care if it is fact-checkable," Kessler said.

Kessler points to two campaigns when asked which ones he feels can best back up its claims.

"Both the (Hillary) Clinton campaign and the Jeb Bush campaign certainly are pretty quick to point to the reason or to the background for their boss' statements," he said.

Kessler said the first line of defense is from readers who can also get involved in the fact-checking process.

"As a good consumer of news, readers can also do their own research if they see something. One of the first things I do when I hear a new fact, I Google it. It's amazing what you'll come up with," Kessler said.

Click here to check out some of Kessler's recent contributions to The Washington Post.