2:29 PM, Nov 23, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
The Associated Press is running with a rather tendentious headline at the moment, "AP FACT CHECK: On climate science, most GOP candidates fail." For their fact check, the AP asked a group of Ph.D. scientists to grade presidential candidates based on their statements about global warming. To keep this supposedly unbiased, they didn't tell the scientists which statements were from which candidate. I suppose the thinking is that if these scientists had any preexisting and unrelated political biases it would be hard to tell Republican rhetoric on global warming from Democratic rhetoric, which is laughable. The end result is that Hillary Clinton gets rated an "A" and all the GOP candidates flunk, and it's presented as some kind of unassailable scientific judgment.
But consider this appalling quote from the AP article:
"This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner," Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz's statements. "That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president."
For anyone following the debates over climate change, the fact AP would highlight Michael Mann's opinions tells you everything you need to know. Mann's currently suing a number of conservative critics, including National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Mark Steyn, and a handful of individuals for pointing out that Mann's own climate science has been far from reliable. A number of people and organizations who are neither conservative nor necessarily disagree with Mann on climate science think his lawsuit is both friviolous and an attack on free speech. Even if that weren't the case, Mann's obvious hostility and ridiculous hyperbole are discrediting as it is. Cruz's opinions on global warming mean that he knows less about science in general than a kindergartner? Please.
It's insulting that the Associated Press would use someone as obnoxious and biased as Mann as a blatant appeal to authority. In fact, when challenged on this point by The Federalist's David Harsanyi, the AP's Seth Borenstein responded with a somewhat snotty and transparently fallacious dismissal about expertise:
It can't be emphasized enough that there needs to be a bright line between science informing politics and scientists dictating politics. While diagnosing the reality of global warming may be a scientific matter, what to do about it is largely a policy matter. One can believe quite strongly in global warming and the need to address any resulting problems, and still believe that hamstringing the economy and energy production is a far from optimal solution. Consider for a moment the cronyism involved between Democrats and green energy subsidies. It would be nice to know why the media are happy to have Michael Mann lambast Ted Cruz for mere rhetoric, but climate scientists have been strangely silent about the fact Obama administration policy is making solar panels more expensive. Or the fact that Democratic senators climate scientists think that people who publicly disagree with them on the issue should be thrown in jail on racketeering charges, and there's not a panoply of media critics decrying such anti-democratic tactics.
In any event, Borenstein and the AP should be ashamed of such discreditable nonsense. The next time Rand Paul or Ben Carson criticize Obamacare, I don't imagine turning around and saying "What's your medical degree in?" would be considered a satisfactory response to preempt liberal criticism.
1:34 PM, Oct 30, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
This morning, Washington Post fact checker Glen Kessler decided to fact check Marco Rubio's statement at the latest GOP debate that Hillary Clinton lied about al Qaeda's involvement in the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi. In public, Clinton initially attributed the attack to spontaneous protests arising from a blasphemous YouTube video.
7:16 AM, Aug 26, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
For several years now, PolitiFact has been waging war on anyone who points out that America has the smallest Navy it's had in nearly a century. Mitt Romney pointed out this fact in a presidential debate in 2012 and PolitiFact rated his statement "pants on fire" even though the number of ships in the U.S. Navy dropped below 300 in 2003 and the last time the U.S. Navy had fewer than 300 ships was 1916.
1:35 PM, Aug 5, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Planned Parenthood now finds itself being heavily criticized after being caught on tape brokering fetal body parts. Fortunately for them, they have no shortage of allies in the media, including PolitiFact.
Fox Business reporter Sandra Smith recently said on air "Almost 95 percent of all (Planned Parenthood) pregnancy services were abortions." On Tuesday, PunditFact, a division of PolitiFact, rated it false.
12:25 PM, Apr 16, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Following Marco Rubio's announcement that he's running for president, the Associated Press decided to "fact check" some of the candidate's rhetoric. If you follow the news, you're probably aware that "fact checking" is more often than not a lame attempt to cloak partisan opinion behind a veil of irrelevant contextual details. On Thursday, the AP really outdid itself in terms of pure hackish nonsense.
Here is the first claim the that AP's Steve Peoples decided to "fact check":
Mar 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 27 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On March 10, Senator Ted Cruz said the following: “On tax -reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible—not a one of them as good.” It’s no surprise that Republicans in Congress tend to hate taxes and love the Bible, and as Republican rhetoric goes, this is about as anodyne as it gets. The Scrapbook never thought that such a straightforward sentiment would engender controversy, but never underestimate the -media’s desire to willfully misrepresent and dispute the words of politicians they don’t like.
9:01 AM, Mar 11, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz said the following: “On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — not a one of them as good.”
3:08 PM, Nov 25, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Recently, Rudy Giuliani raised some eyebrows when he got in a heated discussion with Michael Eric Dyson on Meet the Press. He was discussing the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and said the following: “Ninety-three percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here.”
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.
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.