Tag Archives: Politifact

Fact-checking the fact-checkers: is Politifact reliable or biased?

Politifact is a web site run by some left-wing journalists at the Tampa Bay Times. As you might expect from academic studies of media bias, their content might as well be written by the Democrat Party. But it’s not enough to just declare Politifact a Democrat propaganda operation – I need to actually give you details and examples. And so I will, in the rest of this post.

Let’s start with two recent examples, then I’ll show you the worst example of media bias I have ever seen from Politifact.

Missouri Senate Race

Here’s one analysis from the Daily Wire:

On Tuesday, Politifact, which purports to be a neutral fact-checking website but in fact leans heavily to the left, got caught protecting a member of the Democratic Party: Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Politifact took issue with the ad from The Senate Leadership Fund, a pro-Republican super PAC, that claimed that McCaskill said “normal people” could afford private planes.

[…]After they were corrected, Politifact acknowledged the mistake, writing,

Initially, we published this fact-check with a rating of False, because based on the video available, it did not appear that McCaskill was talking about private planes. After publication, we received more complete video of the question-and-answer session between McCaskill and a constituent that showed she was in fact responding to a question about private planes, as well as a report describing the meeting. We re-assessed the evidence, archived the original version here, and published the version you see here with a new rating of Half True. We apologize for the error.

Daily wire also linked to some more failed Politifact “fact checks”:  herehere, and here.

Arizona Senate Race

Politifact also screwed up their fact-check for the Arizona 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.

“While we were in harm’s way, she was protesting our troops in a pink tutu,” Republican candidate Martha McSally, a former Air Force fighter pilot, said during Monday night’s debate.

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.

[…]Sinema openly associated with fringe elements of the far-left during her anti-war activism.

She promoted an appearance by Lynne Stewart, a lawyer who was convicted of aiding an Islamic terrorist organization, in 2003.

Sinema also reportedly partnered with anarchists and witches in her anti-war activism and said she did “not care” if Americans wanted to join the Taliban.

Colonel Martha McSally, as I’ve blogged about before, is a former U.S. Air Force A-10 fighter pilot, and squadron commander. She logged a lot of hours leading actual combat missions against America’s enemies – the sorts of people who sell and rape Yazidi girls. She fought them.

And now for the big one: Politifact’s fact-checking of Obamacare.

Obama’s claims about Obamacare

Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine, wrote about Politifact’s assessment of Obama’s promise to Americans about keeping their health plans after Obamacare.

In 2008, before the presidential election, PolitiFact rated Obama’s claims about Obamacare “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.’”

And she concluded:

[…]…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.”

Roy notes:

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 says that everyone who likes their health care plan can keep it

Before the election, it’s true! And Obama got re-elected, because people believed that. But what happened after the election?

In 2013, after the 2012 election, PolitiFact rated Obama’s claims about Obamacare “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.”

[…][N]one 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 said one thing before the election, and the opposite afterwards

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. It’s not like the critical assessments of Obamacare from health policy experts were not out there between 2007-2012. I know, because I blogged on every study and report on the predicted effects of the law that I could find. But the intellectually lazy journalism-major clowns at Politifact couldn’t be bothered to read those studies and reports.

Facebook enlists left-wing Politifact and Snopes to censor criticism of Democrats

This week, I was appalled to see that the Babylon Bee, a Christian satire web site, was attacked by Facebook for writing a satire critical of the radically leftist CNN.

Look:

Facebook is so good at checking facts and censoring conservatives
Facebook is so good at checking facts and censoring conservatives

This is what Facebook sent to Adam Ford for his satire of CNN. Since Facebook cited Snopes, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about two Facebook “fact checkers”, and an example of their “fact-checking”.

First, a story from The Daily Signal. Then, we’ll see examples of how Facebook’s censorship allies are biased against conservatives.

Let’s look at the first far-left Facebook partner: Politifact. Politifact is just a group of journalists from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper.

Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine, writes about Politifact’s assessment of Obama’s promise to Americans about keeping their health plans after Obamacare.

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.”

[…]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

Before the election, it’s true! And Obama got re-elected, because people believed that. But what happened after the election?

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.”

[…]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. It’s not like the critical assessments of Obamacare from health policy experts were not out there between 2007-2012. It’s just that the liberal journalism-major bloggers at Politifact couldn’t be bothered to read them. And this is who Facebook is using as a fact checker, because Facebook has one way of seeing issues – the radical leftist way. If you disagree, then they censor your content. Because Facebook employees are close-minded, anti-intellectual socialists who hate free speech.

What about Snopes? Maybe Snopes is a more reliable “fact checker” than Politifact?

The Daily Caller explains:

Snopes’ main political fact-checker is a writer named Kim Lacapria. Before writing for Snopes, Lacapria wrote for Inquisitr, a blog that — oddly enough — is known for publishing fake quotes and even downright hoaxes as much as anything else.

[…]She described herself as “openly left-leaning” and a liberal. She trashed the Tea Party as “teahadists.” She called Bill Clinton “one of our greatest” presidents. She claimed that conservatives only criticized Lena Dunham’s comparison of voting to sex because they “fear female agency.”

[…]Lacapria — in another “fact check” article — argued Hillary Clinton hadn’t included Benghazi at all in her infamous “we didn’t lose a single person in Libya” gaffe. Lacapria claimed Clinton only meant to refer to the 2011 invasion of Libya (but not the 2012 Benghazi attack) but offered little fact-based evidence to support her claim.

After the Orlando terror attack, Lacapria claimed that just because Omar Mateen was a registered Democrat with an active voter registration statusdidn’t mean he was actually a Democrat. Her “fact check” argued that he might “have chosen a random political affiliation when he initially registered.”

Snopes is just spin for Democrat gaffes – playing defense for the DNC. And Facebook using them to check facts, because Facebook is basically joined at the hip to the Democrat party.

Can we verify that Snopes actually lies in order to defend Democrats. Well, yes –right here. Snopes lied about American flags being present throughout the first day of the 2016 Democrat convention.

It’s groups like these who are being relied upon to spot “fake news” for Facebook. When you are on Facebook, it’s important to understand that it is a web site run by Democrats, for the benefit of Democrats. There is no balance. There is no critical thinking. The simple fact of the matter is that many fake news stories are pushed by the leftist mainstream media, and ignored by the leftist “fact checkers”. Here’s one recent example of how that works.

Facebook enlists left-wing Politifact and Snopes to censor news critical of Democrats

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

First, the story from The Daily Signal. Then, we’ll see examples of how Facebook’s censorship allies are biased against conservatives.

Daily Signal:

Facebook announced Thursday an aggressive plan to combat so-called “fake news,” giving users more power to report hoaxes and empowering fact-checking outlets as arbiters.

[…]Facebook is working with outside fact-checking organizations accredited by Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network to help it determine what content is fake. They include ABC News, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and Snopes—all of which have been accused of liberal bias in the past.

“We’ll use the reports from our community, along with other signals, to send stories to these organizations,” Mosseri wrote. “If the fact checking organizations identify a story as fake, it will get flagged as disputed and there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed will also appear lower in News Feed.”

By putting these stories lower in the News Feed—the page you see when you log in—Facebook is reducing the likelihood that its users will see the content, and therefore, less likely to share it. But even in cases when they do see it, a “warning” will appear noting that the story has been disputed. These “flagged” stories can’t be promoted with an ad.

Yes, the same ABC News that employs for Clinton hatchet man George Stephanopolous. That’s who will be doing the “fact checking”. An example of a “fake news” site, by the way, is The Daily Wire, which is run by Harvard Law graduate Ben Shapiro.

Let’s look at another far-left Facebook partner: Politifact. Politifact is just a group of journalists from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper.

Avik Roy, health care policy expert at Forbes magazine, writes about Politifact’s assessment of Obama’s promise to Americans about keeping their health plans after Obamacare.

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.”

[…]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

Before the election, it’s true! And Obama got re-elected, because people believed that. But what happened after the election?

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.”

[…]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. It’s not like the critical assessments of Obamacare from health policy experts were not out there between 2007-2012. It’s just that the liberal journalism-major bloggers at Politifact couldn’t be bothered to read them.

What about Snopes? Maybe Snopes is more reliable than Politifact?

The Daily Caller explains:

Snopes’ main political fact-checker is a writer named Kim Lacapria. Before writing for Snopes, Lacapria wrote for Inquisitr, a blog that — oddly enough — is known for publishing fake quotes and even downright hoaxes as much as anything else.

[…]She described herself as “openly left-leaning” and a liberal. She trashed the Tea Party as “teahadists.” She called Bill Clinton “one of our greatest” presidents. She claimed that conservatives only criticized Lena Dunham’s comparison of voting to sex because they “fear female agency.”

[…]Lacapria — in another “fact check” article — argued Hillary Clinton hadn’t included Benghazi at all in her infamous “we didn’t lose a single person in Libya” gaffe. Lacapria claimed Clinton only meant to refer to the 2011 invasion of Libya (but not the 2012 Benghazi attack) but offered little fact-based evidence to support her claim.

After the Orlando terror attack, Lacapria claimed that just because Omar Mateen was a registered Democrat with an active voter registration statusdidn’t mean he was actually a Democrat. Her “fact check” argued that he might “have chosen a random political affiliation when he initially registered.”

Snopes is just spin for Democrat gaffes – playing defense for the DNC.

Can we verify that Snopes actually lies in order to defend Democrats. Well, yes –right here. Snopes lied about American flags being present throughout the first day of the 2016 Democrat convention.

It’s groups like these who are being relied upon to spot “fake news” for Facebook. When you are on Facebook, it’s important to understand that it is a web site run by Democrats, for the benefit of Democrats. There is no balance. There is no critical thinking. The simple fact of the matter is that many fake news stories are pushed by the leftist mainstream media, and ignored by the leftist “fact checkers”. Here’s one recent example of how that works.

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.