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":
RUBIO: "Too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century."
THE FACTS: On foreign policy, taxes and government spending, many of Rubio's policies are rooted in Republican positions from the 1990s or even earlier.
How in the world is Rubio's clear statement of opinion a fact that could be objectively checked? And how does the fact that Rubio supports policies that have longstanding partisan support contravene what he said in any way? If there's even one outdated 20th century law still on the books that's doing more harm than good, that's too many! And guess what, if you combed through the 80,000 pages of the Federal Register I bet we could find more than a few outdated policies -- many of which even have a great deal of support in Washington for reasons that have nothing to do with whether the law benefits the vast majority of citizens.
The premise is so ridiculous, it's hard to imagine it as a launching pad for any honest discussion. But Steve Peoples has column inches to fill, so we get paragraphs of nitpicking such as this:
Rubio is also calling for sweeping changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security to control government spending. While the push for "premium supports" to control Medicare costs was born this century, pieces of Rubio's plans to change Social Security are decades old. Specifically, he would repeal the "earnings test" for anyone who claims Social Security before full retirement age but keeps working.
So part of his entitlement reform plan is new, but part of it isn't, ergo Rubio is (partially) stuck in the 20th century. Clearly this is not about facts, this is about straining to accuse Rubio of hypocrisy. I can picture the attack ad now: "Marco Rubio says, 'Too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century.' But Marco Rubio supports the Bill of Rights, a series of laws that date all the way back to the 18th century! Can we really trust Marco Rubio when he says he's offering new solutions?"
This brings us to the second claim deemed worthy of examining:
RUBIO: "Our leaders put us at a disadvantage by taxing, borrowing and regulating like it's 1999."
THE FACTS: While Rubio was surely trying to have fun with a popular Prince song, he's wrong to liken the government's current taxing and borrowing to that of 1999.
Translation: One of the most influential news organizations on the planet is acknowledging Rubio wasn't being literal -- but heaven forfend a young Republican bring a little levity by making a pop culture reference!
It's 2012 all over again, when the dishonesty that "fact checkers" engaged in to attack Romney 2012 was breathtaking. Rubio and others in the GOP field need to be prepared to respond to the inevitable mendacious parsing of their words. And they ought to start today, by calling up the AP newsroom and letting them know these kinds of unprofessional and wildy inaccurate "fact checks" won't be tolerated.
UPDATE: ...and because media fact checkers can't even be original in their idiocy, PolitiFact also decided to fact check Rubio's Prince reference.
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.
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:
3:00 PM, Oct 17, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
A few weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion at the National Press Club where the heads of all of the major media 'fact checking' organizations participated. (I wrote about the event here.)
Oct 8, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 04 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
In these pages last week, The Scrapbook noted that a second academic survey had been done suggesting that PolitiFact—the largest of the major media “fact checking” organizations—is biased against Republicans.
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.