Time: Facts, Fables and Fibs by Michael Scherer and James Carney

In “Facts, Fables and Fibs” (9/18/08), Time reporters Michael Scherer and James Carney attempt to sum up the truth and falsity of presidential campaign claims with a gimmicky chart that places Obama and McCain commercials on a grid that separates ads into “Mostly True” and “Mostly False” on the one hand, and “Serious” and “Silly” on the other.

In an intro, the Time reporters acknowledge that “McCain has been far quicker to throw the truth overboard–both in advertisements and on the stump,” but you’d never get that from the grid itself, which seems chiefly concerned with achieving symmetry, both political and graphic. The journalists write: “We decided to spread the highest profile allegations, good and bad, across a grid measuring both accuracy and substance so you can be the judge.”

Well, no–you can’t actually judge for yourself which candidate is less truthful based on Time‘s description and evaluation of campaign ads. But you can get a sense of the strikingly weird judgments of corporate journalists–like when you see that the “Bridge to Nowhere” is deemed to be among the very most “serious” issues of the election, whereas the degree of threat posed by Iran is placed among the “silly” subjects.