high beams being used for gang initiations, someone revealing the Nieman-Marcus secret cookie recipe, or how I should only save the pull tabs from aluminum cans, I politely respond with a link to Snopes.com. They're very good at debunking urban myths, with enough citations that one can check their work.
But what about the current presidential campaign? How do I separate the fact from fiction, and the wheat from the chaff? (And before anyone gets their back up, I'm talking about both parties here and all the major news networks). Pretty much the same way -- I try to go to the source.
I track my representative and senators through OpenCongress.org -- and I also use it to review John McCain's and Barak Obama's congressional careers.
Another really valuable resource is Govtrack.us, an open-source, non-partisan website. It primarily aggregates data, and the designers of the site let you look at the parameters for each stat, so you can decide if its valid or not.
I also rely on FactCheck.org, another non-partisan website. The goal of this site, run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, is simply to compare what the political campaigns are saying, and, well, fact-check the claims. No one's immune - whether it's Sarah Palin's assertion that Alaska provides 20% of America's energy, or Obama's Michigan ad claiming McCain didn't support loan guarantees to the auto industry, FactCheck outlines the case, provides the facts and cites their sources.
Who needs "fair and balanced" coverage? I'll take well-researched and documented, thank you.
Day 88 of the WJMA Web Watch.