Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Politifact Can't Be Trusted

This is so disappointing. I was a regular reader of Politifact and linked to them on many occasions as a reference in previous posts. But no longer. Something happened between their inception and the present day that has caused them to skew their fact checking - you can call it opinion management - to avoid the dreaded "liberal bias" label.

Here is a fact, perfectly stated by President Obama in his State of the Union Address last night:

In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.
Those are the numbers. Plain and simple. But for some unfathomable reason, Politifact originally labeled this statement as "Half-True" then upgraded it to "Mostly-True." And for what reason? After all, it's a simple statement. It's either true or it's false. How can it possibly be half-true? I'll let Paul Krugman explain:
...Unfortunately, Politifact has lost sight of what it was supposed to be doing. Instead of simply saying whether a claim is true, it’s trying to act as some kind of referee of what it imagines to be fair play: even if a politician says something completely true, it gets ruled only partly true if Politifact feels that the fact is being used to gain an unfair political advantage.
...fact-checking should be about checking facts — not about trying to impose some sort of Marquess of Queensbury rules on how you’re allowed to use facts. Aside from undermining the mission, this makes the whole thing subjective — notice that Politifact wasn’t even analyzing what Obama said, they were analyzing their impression about what he might have been trying to imply.
... in practice this turns into a partisan affair. The simple fact is that in today’s US political scene, Republicans make a lot more factual howlers than Democrats. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Yet Politifact wants to be seen as nonpartisan. If it just stuck to the facts, it could say look, we’re just reporting the facts. But having defined its role as something that goes beyond checking facts to saying whether the facts are being used in some “proper” way, it then finds itself under pressure to be “even-handed”, which ends up meaning making excuses for Republican falsehoods and finding ways to criticize Democratic true statements.
Combine this ridiculousness with their 2011 Lie of the Year, and Politifact is Politi-shit. They are supposed to be objective arbiters of statements and they are either true or false. But they've decided to be subjective and my only conclusion is because they're afraid of being labeled a left leaning organization because Republicans are less truthful.

Just in the latest debate Newt Gingrich was asked the following:
Moderator: You've talked about the millions of jobs created by the Reagan tax cuts. If tax cuts create jobs, why didn't the Bush tax cuts work?
Here is the beginning of Newt's answer. Hold on to your seats:
Well, the Bush tax cuts, I think in a period of great difficulty, with the attack of 9/11, actually stopped us from going into a much deeper slump. I think we would have been in much, much worse shape, and I think most economists agree, that in 2002 and '03 and '04 we'd have been in much worse shape without the Bush tax cuts.
What. The. Fuck.

Newt Gingrich actually said the Bush tax cuts, that added a $1.8 trillion to our national debt, stopped us from going into a deeper slump?! I'd like to have a list of "most economists" to which Newt referred. What planet does this motherfucker live on? I'll tell you where - he lives on the planet where people get million dollar credit accounts from jewelry stores and make millions by being the consummate Washington insider.

And how did Politifact rate that whopper of a statement? It wasn't worth mentioning. But a completely truthful statement was rated at best "mostly true" for fear of appearing left leaning.

I rate Politifact's objectivity, Pants on Fire.

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