Good reporters have always checked things out. Arguably the most famous case of fact-checking — long before theTampa Bay Times' PolitiFact lit its first pants on fire — goes back to Sept. 21, 1897. It appeared in an unsigned editorial in the New York Sun, titled "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." The author was Francis Pharcellus Church, a former Civil War correspondent, who has earned a place as a patron saint of fact-checking.



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