Monday, January 3, 2011

Launch

In late 2007, the St. Petersburg Times kicked off PolitiFact for the purpose of rating truth-claims during the 2008 election cycle.

Take left-leaning journalists and put them in charge of a political fact-checking operation. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it happens.

PolitiFact was set up with a format that makes the introduction of subjective judgment all but inevitable by placing its ratings on a scale with six value gradations.  The line of demarcation between a "False" claim and a "Pants on Fire" claim, for example, comes from the judgment that the latter type of claim is "ridiculous."  Seriously:
False – The statement is not accurate.
Pants on Fire – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.
Ponder if you will:  How do we objectively determine the difference between a false claim and a ridiculous claim?

PolitiFact's methods have opened it up to a growing mountain of criticism.  I made such criticism a major focus of my primary blog.  I joined PolitiFact's "FaceBook" page as a fan as a vehicle for registering complaints.  At FaceBook I noticed another fan, JD, whose criticisms were often similar in content to mine yet frequently delivered in much more colorful language.

Both of us noticed a need for a website that brought the best of PolitiFact criticism to the reader's fingertips.  Each of us took steps at our respective blogs in that direction.

Why duplicate the effort?

PolitiFact Bias aims to collect and link to the best criticism of PolitiFact.  Sometimes we'll have another two cents to add, sometimes not.

PolitiFact's Pulitzer Prize means virtually nothing in terms of validating its reliability.  The watchdog needs a watchdog.

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