PolitiFact or PolitiFiction?

Posted: October 25, 2012 by GeeOhPeeved in Uncategorized

So, on Facebook today (odd how often I use social networking sites despite my dislike for them) I made a post saying that Politifact only being unbiased if one is willing to ignore…well, pretty much everything.

Politifact, unbiased? Sure, only if you ignore what they say, and ignore their habit of selective adherence to their own standards.

A friend of mine took issue with this.  We’ve argued a bit before on political matters, and I’ve often taken issue with his claims to impartiality (to be sure, I’m a conservative, and everything I say is from that perspective).  I believe he took particular issue with that post because he has in the past used his reliance on PolitiFact as evidence of his unbiased view.  This was my response:

So, going just off the front page of Politifact, and without looking to any other source, let’s see we’ve got:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/24/barack-obama/obama-says-romney-would-spend-2-trilllion-military/

The article points out that that is the high-end estimate of a proposed 4%-of-GDP floor Romney wants to eventually have as the military’s budget. Obama does not use, “up to,” however, he offers two trillion as a hard number. If this seems nit-picky, look at some of their other reviews. Also, in their “Our Ruling” section, they point to military support for Obama’s spending plan, which is irrelevant as this “fact” has nothing to do with Romney’s proposal. It was included to offer support for Obama’s plan, and what has that to do with fact checking?

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/23/barack-obama/obama-claims-romney-said-we-should-ask-pakistan-pe/

Not only do they point out that Romney never said anything of the sort, they show that he never implied anything like it, either. They even explain that his point was that, while a unilateral strike inside an ally’s borders may be necessary, saying so publicly is undiplomatic. They say Obama was oversimplifying, when it’s clear to any literate person that he lied. Even if he was simply mistaken, though, his statement is still clearly false, though the “unbiased” folks over at PF decided to rate it as “Half True.”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/23/barack-obama/barack-obama-touts-his-record-improving-employment/

Taken as two separate statements, their “Half True” ranking might be justified. However, he was clearly trying to make a point. Relevant, if you look at their own “Principals” page: “Is the statement leaving a particular impression that may be misleading?” Since his statement is clearly trying to make the point that it was only once he took office that veterans have fared better than the general population, thanks to his policies, that’s what they should have been checking. Unfortunately for him, the unemployment rate for veteran’s was already better than that of the general population before he took office. The fact that it continues to be the case rather than it being a product of his policies, coupled with his false claim that unemployment for veterans prior to his inauguration was higher than that of the general population, means his statement was “Mostly False.”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/22/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-he-balanced-budget-salt-lake-city/

First, the quote they use and what they fact-check are two different things, which is a red flag unless they claim he was implying something else, which they don’t. They rate it as “Mostly True” as opposed to “True” despite their admitting that he not only balanced the budget that he was directly responsible for, but was able to secure even MORE funding for the budget which he WASN’T responsible for. How is his claim “Mostly True” as opposed to “True?”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/22/barack-obama/obama-romney-called-russia-our-top-geopolitical-fo/

I love the update in this one, in which they point out that, by their own standards, words matter…yet they rank the statement as “Half True” anyways. Obama based his claim that Romney had referred to Russia as our greatest geopolitical threat on an interview in which, as even PF notes, Romney said that Russia is our greatest geopolitical foe and specifies that, “They don’t represent the No. 1 national security threat. The No. 1 national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran.” So, by their own admission, Obama’s claim was false, yet they kept the ranking of “Half True.”

So, where are we? Of the 19 “fact-checks” on their front page, 5 of them were inaccurate, and intentionally so, I’d argue. That being the case, you’re too smart to see that and still believe that they’re unbiased; I can only see a continued defense as dishonesty in an attempt to hide your own bias.

 

I’m thinking I should go through and debunk a bit of PolitiFiction’s nonsense once a week or so.  Any thoughts?

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Comments
  1. JeffD says:

    I’d encourage you to write more about PolitiFact. You seem to have a knack for it, and there’s plenty of material. Your analysis in this post is spot on.

    • GeeOhPeeved says:

      Thanks for the feedback, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up doing something weekly.

      To be honest, I don’t mind a certain amount of bias so long as it isn’t hidden, and the person or people involved don’t claim to be impartial.

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