1:03 PM, Oct 21, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
From last week, another example of PolitiFact's incredible bias:
Now it should be obvious here that PolitiFact can't validate what the effects of a minimum wage increase are because it hasn't happened yet. Further, the context is that Grimes, who is challenging Mitch McConnell for Kentucky's Senate seat, supports a minimum wage increase, while McConnell opposes one on the grounds that the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) median estimate is that a minimum wage increase will kill 500,000 jobs and maybe as many as a million. Grimes counters that the CBO says a minimum wage increase could help a million people get above the poverty level.
Couple of points here. One, the actual figure of Americans that the CBO says will rise above the poverty level is about 900,000 not "more than a million" and PolitiFact never seems to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt when they're 10+ percent off. Two, while the CBO's estimate of 900,000 people being raised above the poverty line is a net gain that takes into account the job losses, PolitiFact doesn't say what job loss estimate the CBO is using to arrive at that figure. I presume it's the median estimate of 500,000 job losses, but how does that estimate change if we see the high end estimate of a million people losing their jobs? Again, neither PolitiFact or the CBO can predict the future. There are all kinds of second order effects of centralized economic policy that are unforseen. And it has been axiomatic among economists for decades that minimum wage increases hurt labor markets. Only recently has that consensus become undone, largely for nakedly political reasons. There's also an illustrious history of the government's financial projections being wildly wrong, not to mention the problem of CBO estimates being manipulated.
So yes, Grimes is technically telling the truth about something the CBO report says, but her dismissal of what the report says about the downside of a minimum wage increase renders her point somewhere between strictly argumentative and moot.
However, if you just glance at the headline above, you're going to walk away with the impression that 1) Grimes is telling the truth when the issue is much more complicated and 2) a minimum wage increase is a good idea if you want to help people in poverty even though that's not entirely clear and it's probably going to make half a million poor people -- or more -- worse off.
Now PolitiFact does explain all of the broader context below their horribly misleading headline, but surely they know a great many voters aren't going to venture past the headline for a dry discussion of Congressional Budget Office estimates. And of course, such headlines have a way of popping up in candidate press releases and campaign ads. Yet, PolitiFact routinely presents complex information in such a misleading manner knowing full well the impression it leaves on casual reader and how it will be used for political purposes. And multiple surveys have shown PolitiFact is systematically biased in favor of Democrats. At best, PolitiFact is a shockingly irresponsible for news organization. At worst, they're craven and dishonest.
12:25 PM, Sep 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Rep. Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee in the Arkansas Senate race, is running an ad highlighting his leadership in trying to fix Washington's broken farm bill legislation. The ad isn't particularly controversial ormaking false claims, in any discernible way and yet "fact checkers" at the Washington Post and PolitiFact have pretty savagely attacked it. Once again, the fact checkers are wrong on the merits. But more than that, there's something very fishy about their Cotton critique.
You can watch the whole ad, but here's the supposedly objectionable claim Cotton makes:
“When President Obama hijacked the farm bill, turned it into a food stamp bill, with billions more in spending, I voted no. Career politicians love attaching bad ideas to good ones. Then the bad ideas become law, and you pay for it.”
As far as legislative sausage-making goes, there are few spectacles more off-putting than Capitol Hill's periodic farm bill extravaganza. The farm subsidies are bad enough on their own, but for decades the bill has also included funding for the unrelated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps. The result is the worst kind of bipartisanship—rural Republicans compromise on bloating the cost of food stamp funding in exchange for Democratic votes to get their farm subsidies.
11:30 PM, May 21, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
As is well established, I have been less than impressed by the efforts of media "fact checking" organizations. Of these organizations, however, PolitiFact deserves special consideration.
3:34 PM, Oct 28, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
PolitiFact has a pretty terrible and rather partisan history of Obamacare fact checks. However, there's one, in particular, about Obamacare that remains especially puzzling. It's the "half-true" rating the organization gave when President Obama promised that, If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance under Obamacare. This was not a casually tossed-off statement by the president, either.
1:42 PM, May 31, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University is out with a new study on media fact checkers, and unsurprisingly, their results suggest that PolitiFact has it out for Republicans. Dylan Byers at Politico summarized CMPA's findings:
The fact-checking organization PolitiFact has found Republicans to be less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study.
Fifty-two percent of Republican claims reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times fact-checking operation were rated "mostly false," “false” or “pants on fire,” versus just 24 percent of Democratic statements, according to George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs. By the same token, 54 percent of Democratic statements were rated as "mostly true" or "true," compared to just 18 percent of Republican statements.
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.
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.