The Backstory: Journalists hold the powerful accountable. In words and deeds.

President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.

I'm USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is the Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you'd like to get the Backstory in your inbox every Friday, sign up here.

One of our top priorities, a top priority for all journalists, is to hold the powerful accountable. Both in words and deeds.

So when President Donald Trump addressed the nation Tuesday for his State of the Union, our experts were ready to report on what was true, what was false, what was stretched and what was missing. They found examples of each.

Some statements were simple to check.

President Donald Trump said, “our economy is the best it has ever been." Economics reporter Paul Davidson found that based on the pace of growth, the broadest measure of the economy's performance, that's not true. The economy has grown an average of 2.5% a year under Trump. "The economy grew well over 3% in the mid-2000 and well over 4% from 1997-2000," Davidson reported.

Other statements were true, but were missing context.

Trump said, "the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country.” That's true. Unemployment now is at 3.5%. But Davidson pointed out that's partly because unemployment was low at 4.7% when he took office. "The rate fell more sharply in the final 35 months under Obama, to 4.7% from 6.7%," he reported.

"When I watched the speech, I mostly looked for statements that either were incorrect or needed to be clarified," Davidson said. "He made so many points on the economy, I was going to focus on ones where I could add value.

"I hope readers gain a more accurate understanding of the economy or at least some perspective that puts the points Trump made in a more balanced context."

When talking about lower prescription drug prices, Trump said, "Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it." Sounds great to most. What are we missing?

There are competing plans to lower prescription drug prices for seniors with Medicare from the Senate Finance Committee, House Republicans and House Democrats, Health Reporter Jayne O'Donnell explained. These competing plans have been debated for months. 

Both the House Democratic and Senate committee plans would require drugmakers to pay rebates if drug price increases exceed inflation and both set limits on out-of-pocket costs, O'Donnell reported. Unlike the Senate bill, the House Democrats' option, HR 3, would also allow the government to negotiate drug prices for private insurance plans.

Trump's push during the speech raised hopes for action, but during Wednesday morning talk shows, both sides blamed each other for the impasse.

So how does O'Donnell get to the truth? 

"I make sure to rely on primary sources such as official transcripts from Congress, the White House, interviews, the Congressional Budget Office or the Library of Congress," she said. "Yesterday I worked hard to find an expert not involved in the politics of the debate. That’s harder and harder.

"Even if they are at ‘bipartisan’ think tanks, they almost always have worked for one party or another in government."

Stephanie and Janiyah Davis are applauded as they sit in the First Lady's box as  President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.

Trump touted private school scholarships supported by tax credits and then said to a wait-listed Philadelphia girl that one had come open for her.

What we didn't hear: A scholarship didn't suddenly come open. Her tuition would be paid directly by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

"When Trump awarded Janiyah Davis an 'opportunity scholarship' that she'd been wait-listed for in Pennsylvania, I had a hunch that couldn't be true because it didn't seem like an outsider could just dip in and put more money in the state pot for an additional kid," said education reporter Erin Richards. 

Richards found out that the scholarship program does have limits on donations, then she contacted the Department of Education and found out DeVos would pay directly for the girl's scholarship. In fact, a Pennsylvania education official she spoke with had no idea Trump had offered a state scholarship to the fourth grader.

The funding trail is important because Trump essentially offered a state scholarship that he couldn't make available. It's also unusual for an education secretary to step in to fund a specific student (though DeVos donates her salary every year and has funded colleges and children's charities in the past).

"More broadly," Richards said, "it goes to the heart of the conversation about school choice: Do you provide funding for just a few kids to 'escape' a system, or do you pour more money into the system for all?"

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Some were surprised that climate change didn't come up in the address, given that many consider it the defining issue of the 21st century. 

The president did announce the United States would join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, Trees lower greenhouse gasses by storing store carbon dioxide as they grow.

He also lauded our fossil fuel production, saying, “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far."

Climate change reporter Elizabeth Weise reported, "That’s actually been the case since 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, mostly because of the growth of fracking technology."

When it comes to climate change, Weise focuses on "what the actual reality on the ground is. What (readers) do with that information is up to them, but at least we’ll have told them what the leading minds on the planet have to say without an overlay of political or economic self-interest."

Politicians spin.

Political parties and special interest groups push agendas.

And journalists report the truth.

Nicole Carroll is the editor-in-chief of USA TODAY. She is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Benjamin C. Bradlee "Editor of the Year” and proud mom of three. Comments? Questions? Reach her at EIC@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter here.