Let's Put 'Truth Sandwiches' On Our Menu : Memmos When debunking falsehoods, it may be best to wrap them around two slices of reality.
NPR logo Let's Put 'Truth Sandwiches' On Our Menu

Let's Put 'Truth Sandwiches' On Our Menu

Debunking falsehoods has long been among our standard practices. As we've said:

When There's No Evidence To Support A Claim, We Should Say That

In the last few days it's been suggested on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and in Margaret Sullivan's Washington Post column that news outlets should put the falsehood or spin between two slices of reality – "one tasty, democracy-nourishing meal," Sullivan wrote. Or, as CNN's Brian Stelter put it, a "truth sandwich."

The idea is to start with the truth, then state the claim, and follow that with more reality.

Skipping the first step and just putting the falsehood first and then debunking it, linguist George Lakoff told CNN and the Post, may reinforce it in the minds of audience members. Starting with the truth, then reporting the claim and then adding more fact-checking, helps avoid that problem.

What might a truth sandwich look like?

Coleman Always Gets It Right, Despite What Memmott Claims

Even though recordings prove that news anchor Korva Coleman has not mispronounced his name on the air, NPR Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott charged Tuesday that she has repeatedly and deliberately referred to him as memm-NOTT, not MEMM-it. He falsely insisted that Coleman "never gets it right" even after being presented with audio recordings of the 17 times she has referred to him correctly. ...