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Once Again, PolitiFact Struggles to Explain Data Showing They Treat GOP Unfairly

1:42 PM, May 31, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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So contrary to Adair's ungracious insinuation, CMPA's most recent results aren't a selective anomaly. The data really do seem to suggest that PolitiFact doesn't like Republicans. (On that point, CMPA also tallied up Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler's rulings and found him to be much more even handed than PolitiFact when it came to evaluating Republicans and Democrats.)

In fact, at a panel discussion on media fact checkers in Washington last year I asked Bill Adair point blank why multiple studies keep showing PolitiFact is unduly hard on Republicans. Here was his response:

You know I don’t find the “hey, you gave my team...” [complaints persuasive] because I hear it from both sides. I was at a party over the summer and a guy came up to me and said, “Hey, I think that, I really think Politifact Virginia has been unfair, they’ve been very biased against Tim Kaine,” the Democrat. And then like a week or so later the Virginia Republican party came out and said Politifact Virginia is unfairly targeting the Republicans. And you know, I think the nature of what we do is disruptive to the status quo. I think we are easier to analyze because of our unique structure, but I don’t find the numerical count analysis to be particularly persuasive.

In other words, don't pay any attention to the actual data on PolitiFact because Bill Adair is content to survey what he hears at cocktail parties. This is a self-serving and inadequate response, to put it mildly. And to make matters worse, it's not just that PolitiFact's rulings appear tremendously biased when looked at in aggregate. As I noted last year, "I've written several articles citing chapter and verse of why PolitiFact rulings are either tendentious or flat out erroneous, and PolitiFact is downright unresponsive beyond dismissive references to 'partisans' at THE WEEKLY STANDARD." At the aforementioned panel discussion last year, Bill Adair was crowing about his organization's coverage of the welfare reform debate during last year's presidential campaign. PolitiFact's coverage of the issue amounted to a repeated and sustained attack on the credibility of the Romney campaign. As I laid out in detail last fall, PolitiFact got the facts badly, badly wrong. (And it wasn't just me that highlighted this—compare the stark difference in coverage of the issue between the Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler who basically got it right and PolitiFact's gross misunderstanding of how the law works.)

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