If Donald Trump's presidency has improved business for anyone, it's fact-checkers. From his tweets to his speeches, almost everything Trump states is put under the news media microscope. But these efforts to separate fact from truth are all part of the media's role in holding public officials accountable. And indeed, Trump isn't the only one whose words need to be scrutinized. Several outlets, including Politifact, FactCheck.org, and Open Secrets, help make fact checks accessible to the general public. And now journalism nonprofit ProPublica needs the public's help to hold Congress accountable on the Affordable Care Act.
Following Trump's election, calls and emails from constituents to members of Congress skyrocketed, with many inspired by news of the GOP's intent to repeal the ACA and replace it with a plan that's controversial among both Democrats and Republicans. And despite the deluge of communication from constituents, some senators and representatives took the time to respond. ProPublica — in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, Stat, and Vox — now wants people to send those responses their way so they can fact-check them, hopefully shedding some light on the ways some members of Congress communicate with, and potentially mislead, the people they represent.
The outlets were inspired by a dive into Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt's email to a constituent. What they found was less than confidence-inspiring. ProPublica concluded that the email was "misleading and lacked important context," all in the service of discrediting the ACA. Now the outlets are crowdsourcing to obtain responses on the ACA from all 100 senators and 435 representatives. And they are well on their way. As of midday March 20, ProPublica reports that they have collected responses from half of all senators and 129 representatives, collectively representing 44 states. But they need several more, and have made a list of which responses they need available. So far, they have yet to receive letters or emails to constituents from senators and representatives of Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, or Rhode Island, and they are still waiting on letters from select legislators from the nation's other 44 states.
Interested in helping hold your senator or U.S. representative accountable? Do you have a letter or email response about the ACA to share? Click here to learn more about how to submit it to ProPublica and aid in this massive fact-checking effort.