Tag Archives: Fact Checker

New York Times forced to correct smear of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?
Why do people think that the mainstream news media is biased?

It’s very troubling to me that people in my office who are on the left still think that mainstream news organizations and “fact checkers” are unbiased and reliable. When the mainstream news media or “fact checkers” are caught in a mistake, my co-workers never seem to become aware of it. They live in a bubble, consuming “news” that confirms what they already want to believe about the world.

Here’s an example where the New York Times printed smears against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and then had to issue a correction.

The Daily Wire reports:

The New York Times was forced to correct a smear article on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after it was revealed that they excluded exculpatory evidence from their report.

“An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party,” The Times wrote in a correction. “The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.”

So, they printed an entire article about an alleged assault against this female student, and the actual female student declined to be interviewed and did not recall the incident.

According to John McCormack of National Review:

“Omitting this fact from the New York Times story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent memory.”

That’s mainstream news media, in a nutshell. In cases of fake news, the fake news story is always trumpeted on the front page. The correction gets printed days later, somewhere further back in the newspaper. If a correction is printed at all.

But what about the fact-checkers? Surely they must be more reliable about checking facts, before printing fake news, right?

What about Snopes?

Well, let’s consider Snopes, a famous fact-checker used by all the Big Tech companies to independently fact-check conservative web sites.

Here’s Snopes claiming that AOC DID NOT say that photos of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack were “triggering”.

Snopes says this claim about AOC is false
Snopes says AOC did not say it

But their own story says that AOC DID say that photos of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack were “triggering”:

Snopes says this claim about AOC is true
Snopes says AOC did say it, in their own article

Well, that’s just Snopes. Maybe other fact-checkers are different.

What about Politifact?

Politifact screwed up a fact-check during the Arizona 2018 Senate race.

The Daily Caller explains:

PolitiFact incorrectly labeled it “mostly false” that Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema “protested troops in a pink tutu” during its live fact-check of the Arizona Senate debate Monday night.

It’s an established fact that Sinema, a former Green Party activist who co-founded an anti-war group, wore a pink tutu at one of the multiple anti-war protests she attended in 2003.

Here’s their Politifact’s evaluation of McSally’s claim:

Who are you going to believe? Politifact, or your own eyes?
Who are you going to believe? Politifact, or your own eyes?

And here’s the photo of Kyrsten Sinema, protesting the troops, in a pink tutu:

Anti-war Democrat Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema
Anti-war Democrat Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema in a pink tutu

The Daily Caller notes:

A 2003 Arizona State University news article at the time described Sinema wearing “something resembling a pink tutu” at one of the protests.

The mainstream media, e.g. – the New York Times, and the major fact-checkers, e.g. Snopes and Politifact, are constantly making mistakes likes this. People need to understand that the major fact-checkers are not specially-trained investigators. They’re mostly just journalists – and journalists are known to donate overwhelmingly to Democrat candidates. I’ve blogged before about peer-reviewed studies showing the far-left bias of mainstream media journalists.

I’m not saying that journalists are just a bunch of uneducated losers who ran up student loan debt while getting drunk, getting high and being promiscuous in college. I’m just saying that journalism is not engineering. Engineers are accountable to reality. They have to solve problems in reality. Journalists often have very little education in reality based fields like math, science and engineering. They often haven’t learned to think critically. They are often swayed by feelings and peer pressure. You couldn’t trust these people to do anything useful for you, like fix your car, give you anesthetic,  or program a computer, etc. They don’t have reality-based skills that produce useful results. Their product is feelings – they allow a certain segment of society to persist in their feelings-based delusions. Their customers pay journalists for comfortable lies that affirm their moral superiority over their political enemies.

We need to have accurate views of the reliability of the mainstream media and the so-called fact-checkers, so we can be skeptical when we hear claims that sound far-fetched or made-up. Fake news is real, and it happens more often than you think.

New study: Politifact fact-checker is biased against Republicans

Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?
Why do people think that CNN are biased leftist clowns?

How accurate is the fact-checking site Politifact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper?

The Weekly Standard reports on a recent study from George Mason University.

Excerpt:

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.

The CMPA looked at 100 statements — 46 by Democrats, 54 by Republicans — that were fact-checked by PolitiFact between January 20 and May 22.

[…]This is also not the first academic study that concluded PolitiFact might be putting their thumb on the scale when it comes to selecting and evaluating political statements. Last year, during the height of campaign season, the CMPA tallied up PolitiFact ratings. That study also showed PolitiFact tends to be much harder on Republicans:

The study examined 98 election-related statements by the presidential candidates, their surrogates, and campaign ads fact-checked by PolitiFact.com from June 1 to September 11. Major findings:

PolitiFact checked the assertions of Democrats slightly more often than those of Republicans (54% vs. 46% of all statements).

However, PolitiFact rated Democratic statements as “mostly true” or “entirely true” about twice as often as Republican statements — 42% true ratings for Democrats vs. 20% for Republicans.

Conversely, statements by Republicans were rated as entirely false about twice as often as Democratic statements – 29% false ratings for GOP statements vs. 15% false ratings for Democrats. (This includes categories labeled “false” and “pants on fire.”)

Further, the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs looked at over than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011. Their conclusion:

Current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts. In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire’ over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent).

In other words, they are cherry-picking statements that are false for Republicans and true for Democrats. But maybe that’s just because Republicans lie more than Democrats right before an election? Maybe, just before an election, Republicans suddenly start to lie uncontrollably while Democrats suddenly start to tell the truth all the time?

Let’s take a look at one famous case and see.

This is from Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine.

2008 PolitiFact before the election: ‘We rate his statement True’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On October 9, 2008, Angie Drobnic Holan of PolitiFact published an article using the site’s “Truth-O-Meter” to evaluate this claim: “Under Barack Obama’s health care proposal, ‘if you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it.’” The article assures us in its headline that “Obama’s plan expands [the] existing system,” and continues that “Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here…It remains to be seen whether Obama’s plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama’s plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True.”

The 2008 Obama plan, among other things, sought to transform the individual insurance market; it proposed to bar insurers from charging different premiums to the healthy and the sick, and to require them to offer plans to all comers, regardless of prior health status. According to PolitiFact, however, there was no need to worry that these provisions would be disruptive to existing health plans.

As per PolitiFact’s usual M.O., Holan didn’t seek out any skeptical health-policy experts to suss out the veracity of Senator Obama’s signature claim. Instead, its sources included Jonathan Cohn, a passionate Obamacare supporter at The New Republic, and various interviews and statements of Mr. Obama. Holan simply took the “keep your plan” promise at face value, dismissing as dishonest anyone who dared suggest that Obama’s claim would be impossible to keep. “His opponents have attacked his plan as ‘government-run’ health care,” she wrote, the scare-quotes around “government-run” being visible to all.

PolitiFact’s pronouncements about Obamacare were widely repeated by pro-Obama reporters and pundits, and had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election. Indeed, in 2009, PolitiFact won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

Here’s the screen capture from 2008:

Politifact caught with its pants on fire
Politifact caught with its pants on fire

2013 PolitiFact after the election: ‘We rate his statement Pants On Fire’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On December 12, [2013] the self-appointed guardians of truth and justice at PolitiFact named President Obama’s infamous promise—that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”—its 2013 “Lie of the Year.”

[…]So that brings us back to the fall of 2013. As Obamacare’s battle station became operational, and tens of millions of health plans became illegal, PolitiFact was caught with its flaming pants down. Louis Jacobson rapped Valerie Jarrett for tweeting that “nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans”—a claim Jacobson rated as “False,” even though PolitiFact had rated it as “True” and “Half True” before.

On November 4, Jacobson rated as “Pants on Fire” the President’s new claim that “what we said was, you can keep [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Both pieces were edited by Angie Drobnic Holan, who had initially granted PolitiFact’s seal of approval to Senator Obama’s 2008 promise. Holan delivered the coup de grâce, declaring as PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” the “keep your plan” promise.

“The promise was impossible to keep,” says Holan in her December piece. Now she tells us! But none of the key facts that made that promise “impossible” in 2008 had changed by 2013. The President’s plan had always required major disruption of the health insurance market; the Obamacare bill contained the key elements of that plan; the Obamacare law did as well. The only thing that had changed was the actual first-hand accounts of millions of Americans who were losing their plans now that Obamacare was live.

And the screen capture from 2013:

Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!
Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!

So when Politifact rates a statement by a Democrat as true, what they really mean is that it’s pants-on-fire-false, but it’s election time so they don’t say that.

The Tampa Bay Times. Politifact. It’s a catchy name, isn’t? It’s telling us the Facts about Politics.

I think this case demonstrates how people on the political left allow their emotions to overturn objective reality. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your health plan. Benghazi was caused by a Youtube video. The e-mails and e-mail backups of all the IRS employees were lost. The Department of Justice did not target Associated Press journalists. The assault weapons were not gun-walked to Mexican drug cartels. They will believe anything that makes them feel superior and noble, even when faced with evidence that clearly falsifies their beliefs.

New study: Politifact fact-checker is biased against Republicans

How accurate is the fact-checking site Politifact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper?

The Weekly Standard reports on a recent study from George Mason University.

Excerpt:

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.

The CMPA looked at 100 statements — 46 by Democrats, 54 by Republicans — that were fact-checked by PolitiFact between January 20 and May 22.

[…]This is also not the first academic study that concluded PolitiFact might be putting their thumb on the scale when it comes to selecting and evaluating political statements. Last year, during the height of campaign season, the CMPA tallied up PolitiFact ratings. That study also showed PolitiFact tends to be much harder on Republicans:

The study examined 98 election-related statements by the presidential candidates, their surrogates, and campaign ads fact-checked by PolitiFact.com from June 1 to September 11. Major findings:

PolitiFact checked the assertions of Democrats slightly more often than those of Republicans (54% vs. 46% of all statements).

However, PolitiFact rated Democratic statements as “mostly true” or “entirely true” about twice as often as Republican statements — 42% true ratings for Democrats vs. 20% for Republicans.

Conversely, statements by Republicans were rated as entirely false about twice as often as Democratic statements – 29% false ratings for GOP statements vs. 15% false ratings for Democrats. (This includes categories labeled “false” and “pants on fire.”)

Further, the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs looked at over than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011. Their conclusion:

Current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts. In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire’ over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent).

In other words, they are cherry-picking statements that are false for Republicans and true for Democrats. But maybe that’s just because Republicans lie more than Democrats right before an election? Maybe, just before an election, Republicans suddenly start to lie uncontrollably while Democrats suddenly start to tell the truth all the time?

Let’s take a look at one famous case and see.

This is from Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine.

2008 PolitiFact before the election: ‘We rate his statement True’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On October 9, 2008, Angie Drobnic Holan of PolitiFact published an article using the site’s “Truth-O-Meter” to evaluate this claim: “Under Barack Obama’s health care proposal, ‘if you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it.’” The article assures us in its headline that “Obama’s plan expands [the] existing system,” and continues that “Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here…It remains to be seen whether Obama’s plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama’s plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True.”

The 2008 Obama plan, among other things, sought to transform the individual insurance market; it proposed to bar insurers from charging different premiums to the healthy and the sick, and to require them to offer plans to all comers, regardless of prior health status. According to PolitiFact, however, there was no need to worry that these provisions would be disruptive to existing health plans.

As per PolitiFact’s usual M.O., Holan didn’t seek out any skeptical health-policy experts to suss out the veracity of Senator Obama’s signature claim. Instead, its sources included Jonathan Cohn, a passionate Obamacare supporter at The New Republic, and various interviews and statements of Mr. Obama. Holan simply took the “keep your plan” promise at face value, dismissing as dishonest anyone who dared suggest that Obama’s claim would be impossible to keep. “His opponents have attacked his plan as ‘government-run’ health care,” she wrote, the scare-quotes around “government-run” being visible to all.

PolitiFact’s pronouncements about Obamacare were widely repeated by pro-Obama reporters and pundits, and had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election. Indeed, in 2009, PolitiFact won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

Here’s the screen capture from 2008:

Politifact caught with its pants on fire
Politifact caught with its pants on fire

2013 PolitiFact after the election: ‘We rate his statement Pants On Fire’

Roy writes: (links removed)

On December 12, [2013] the self-appointed guardians of truth and justice at PolitiFact named President Obama’s infamous promise—that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”—its 2013 “Lie of the Year.”

[…]So that brings us back to the fall of 2013. As Obamacare’s battle station became operational, and tens of millions of health plans became illegal, PolitiFact was caught with its flaming pants down. Louis Jacobson rapped Valerie Jarrett for tweeting that “nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans”—a claim Jacobson rated as “False,” even though PolitiFact had rated it as “True” and “Half True” before.

On November 4, Jacobson rated as “Pants on Fire” the President’s new claim that “what we said was, you can keep [your plan] if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Both pieces were edited by Angie Drobnic Holan, who had initially granted PolitiFact’s seal of approval to Senator Obama’s 2008 promise. Holan delivered the coup de grâce, declaring as PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” the “keep your plan” promise.

“The promise was impossible to keep,” says Holan in her December piece. Now she tells us! But none of the key facts that made that promise “impossible” in 2008 had changed by 2013. The President’s plan had always required major disruption of the health insurance market; the Obamacare bill contained the key elements of that plan; the Obamacare law did as well. The only thing that had changed was the actual first-hand accounts of millions of Americans who were losing their plans now that Obamacare was live.

And the screen capture from 2013:

Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!
Politifact says: we were just kidding! Kidding!

So when Politifact rates a statement by a Democrat as true, what they really mean is that it’s pants-on-fire-false, but it’s election time so they don’t say that.

The Tampa Bay Times. Politifact. It’s a catchy name, isn’t? It’s telling us the Facts about Politics. I suppose the same people who think that Politifact is a reliable fact checker also believe that the Affordable Care Act would lower premiums by $2500, as Obama said. It actually raised them $3000 in objective reality, though. But it says Affordable Care Act in the name, so missing the target by $5500 must be “affordable”.

I think this case demonstrates how people on the political left allow their emotions to overturn objective reality. You can keep your doctor. You can keep your health plan. Benghazi was caused by a Youtube video. The e-mails and e-mail backups of all the IRS employees were lost. The Department of Justice did not target Associated Press journalists. The assault weapons were not gun-walked to Mexican drug cartels. They will believe anything that makes them feel superior and noble, even pinned down by the heavy weight of countervailing facts.