6:38 PM, Jan 18, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Earlier today, I wrote a lengthy critique pointing out the inconvenient fact that PolitiFact's Lie of the Year -- "The Romney campaign's ad on Jeeps made in China" -- turns out to be true. It involves a lot of complicated back and forth, so I encouage you to read that post if you're not familiar with what's going on. But the thrust of the matter is that the Romney campaign ran an ad saying that Jeep, the recipient of a taxpayer bailout, was going to start producing cars in China. Well, now PolitiFact has responded to my criticism, albeit obliquely, and their response leaves a lot to be desired:
Our story focused on the clear message of the Romney campaign’s ad, that jobs in the United States were being moved to China, or perhaps that Jeep was moving its entire operations to China. That is not the case and has never been the case.
Emphasis added. Now if the message of the ad was "clear," why does PolitiFact say "perhaps" the ad meant to say "Jeep was moving its entire operations to China"? The ad, which you can watch here, never said that Jeep was moving U.S. jobs to China, let alone its entire operations to China. All the ad says, and this is correct, is that the Obama administration played a hand in selling Chrysler to "Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China." In fact, later in PolitiFact's response they make this concession:
The Romney campaign was crafty with its word choice, so campaign aides could claim to be speaking the literal truth, but the ad left a false impression that all Jeep production was being moved to China.
Emphasis added. Casting aside all of the obvious weasel words in that statement, it's pretty dubious to say the ad created "a false impression that all Jeep production was being moved to China." Now it's true there was some initial confusion over what Jeep was doing. Here's what happened: Romney wrongly said in a stump speech that Jeep was "thinking of moving all production to China." That remark seems to have stemmed from an imprecisely written Bloomberg report saying that Fiat, which owns Chrysler, "plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in the country." According to CBS News, the "piece subsequently clarified that Chrysler was considering 'adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.'" After it was pointed out by many in the press that Jeep was not, in fact, moving U.S. production overseas, the campaign clarified Romney's position on the matter:
The campaign did not respond to those questions but insisted that "the larger point that the Gov. made is that rather than creating jobs here, the foreign owner, handpicked by President Obama, is planning to add jobs overseas - which is still true." Romney did not mention the [Bloomberg] report at a campaign event in Ames, Iowa this afternoon.
So Jeep, which was currently producing almost all of its cars in America and then selling them overseas, was now planning to build cars in China instead of increasing production and creating jobs in the U.S. to meet increasing overseas demand. For a variety of reasons, it could be said that producing cars overseas makes business sense for Jeep. But the point the Romney campaign was making is that because Jeep received a taxpayer bailout at the behest of the president, creating jobs for American workers should be prioritized by Jeep before taxpayers are subsidizing the company's decision to create jobs in China.
Further, all of this was hashed out and reported before the Romney ad that PolitiFact singled out as the "Lie of the Year" even aired. PolitiFact didn't need to guess at the message the Romney campaign was trying to send, yet they chose to put pretty much the worst construction on what the Romney campaign ad said. As I said before, even free-traders and pro-globalization folks on the right may find the Romney campaign's argument against Jeep's expansion overseas disagreeable on economic and political grounds. But how exactly is it an example of the Romney campaign being deceptive?
12:25 PM, Jan 18, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Last month, PolitiFact selected its "Lie of the Year." Given PolitiFact's dubious record of singling out Republicans for lying far more often than Democrats, you probably could have guessed the winner of this particular sweepstakes was a Mitt Romney campaign ad:
2:50 PM, Oct 23, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
The Tampa Bay Times, the paper that puts out (and funds) the supposedly unbiased PolitiFact, has just enthusiastically endorsed President Obama for a second term. The Times writes that “[w]ithout hesitation” it “recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president.” The paper cites Obama’s “steady leadership.” It’s no wonder the Times is backing Obama.
9:45 AM, Oct 5, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
After staring in some amazement at PolitiFact’s ostensibly unbiased rulings on the truthfulness of various statements made during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, I finally realized what the problem is: PolitiFact’s self-described Truth-O-Meter is clearly broken. Thankfully, however, it’s broken in a way that’s both predictable and fixable. You see, if you simply turn the Truth-O-Meter two notches to the right for any claim made by a Republican, and two notches to the left for any claim made by a Democrat, its reading actually becomes surprisingly accurate.
Asked about evidence of partisan bias, fact checkers struggle to defend themselves.1:19 PM, Sep 27, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. the heads of all of the major media "fact checking" organizations convened for a panel discussion. On the panel were PolitiFact editor Bill Adair, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, the Associated Press's Jim Drinkard, and it was moderated by Brooks Jackson of FactCheck.org.
3:23 PM, Aug 28, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, I wrote a lengthy blog post taking PolitiFact to task for their shamelessly skewed "fact checks" on the Romney-Ryan health care plans. And as it happens, I woke up today and National Review has an excellent editorial on the same topic. It's worth reading in full, but this part was as amusing as it was discrediting:
3:32 PM, Aug 27, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Perhaps if we all ignore PolitiFact, they'll go away. But for the time being, the supposedly independent organization continues to crank out skewed and partisan work. There's no better example of this than the the current jihad the "fact checking" organization is waging against the Romney-Ryan health care plan.
10:40 AM, Aug 17, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
I know those of you masochistic enough to pay close attention to media fact checkers aren't going to be surprised by this, but Media Trackers, a nonpartisan watchdog, combed through the personal Twitter feed of PolitiFact Ohio writer Tom Feran and found he's a pretty vocal liberal. You can review the evidence here, but it turns out that he's not a fan of George W. Bush, refers to conservatives as "wingnuts" and "yahoos," and tweets out links to blog postings on the "The Cancer of Conservatism." On the other hand, Feran is an enthusiastic Obama supporter—"Go-bama!"—and supporter of Occupy Wall Street.
Bold new fact checking truthiness: "The numbers are accurate but quite misleading" and "TRUE BUT FALSE."5:17 PM, Apr 11, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Romney campaign is none too happy with PolitiFact at the moment, issuing a blistering response to a recent fact checking item on a campaign talking point. As a response to Democrats' "war on women" rehetoric, the presumed GOP presidential nominee's press secretary pointed out that under Obama's presidency, women account for 92.3 percent of the job losses. This kind of statement—a bold claim involving an actual statistic—is catnip to media fact checkers.
11:10 AM, Feb 16, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Before I explain why PolitiFact is once again being deliberately misleading, grossly incompetent, or some hellbroth of these distinguishing characteristics, you'll have bear with me. Part of the reason PolitiFact gets away with being so shoddy is that it counts on its readers believing that it can be trusted to explain any necessary context to justify its status as judge, jury, and factual executioner. So first, some background.
12:52 PM, Jan 20, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
A lot of people are buzzing about this blog post by Tom Bruschino, assistant professor of history at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Bruschino was contacted by PolitiFact and asked to weigh in on Mitt Romney's claim that "Our navy is smaller than it's been since 1917. Our air force is smaller and older than any time since 1947."
1:22 AM, Jan 20, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
In tonight’s debate, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both questioned whether Mitt Romney actually governed in a pro-life fashion, even after his public conversion on abortion. Both claimed that Romney’s health care law increased access to taxpayer-subsidized abortion. Romney denied any culpability, replying, “That was done by the courts.” Fortunately, PolitiFact has looked into this matter on more than one occasion.