Romney to PolitiFact: There You Go Again
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. One would hope that the campaign double-checked their math. PolitiFact reruns the numbers:
That seems pretty straightforward. Given that PolitiFact says Romney's numbers check out, how the heck did PolitiFact then conclude Romney's statement is "mostly false"? Well, they did what fact checkers habitually do whenever they find something factually correct but politically disagreeable—kick up a bunch of irrelevant contextual dirt and lean on some biased sources. Which is why PolitiFact's own language here is absurd: "We found that though the numbers are accurate, their reading of them isn’t" and "The numbers are accurate but quite misleading." I would also note that my friend Glenn Kessler, the fact checker at the Washington Post, evaluated the same claim and deemed it "TRUE BUT FALSE." I do hope that if media fact checkers expect to retain any credibility to evaluate basic empirical claims, they're aware that this kind of Orwellian doublespeak is going to make them a laughingstock.
So what are PolitiFact's actual objections?:
Would giving Obama a few months of buffer on the jobs number necessarily result in a dramatic improvement in the 92.3 percent statistic? I doubt it, and in any event, it has no bearing on the literal truth of the Romney campaign statement, which they admit is "accurate." As for the idea that women's job losses must be balanced out by considering the previous job losses by men, the Romney campaign makes two good points:
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