Monday, January 31, 2011

PolitiHack Tracker: "PFT Voter ID Hackery"

Translating the title:

"PolitiFact Texas' voter ID hackery"

PolitiHack Tracker keeps tabs on PolitiFact's Texas operation at the Austin American-Statesman, and PolitiHack Tracker's Weston Hicks finds an example of the type of bad fact checking all too typical at PolitiFact:
Politifact Texas uses wooden literalism to put a bad graphic next to Attorney General David Dewhurst. AG Dewhurst made the following statement when making the point that requiring a photo ID is hardly a novel concept in our society, and that, in fact, we require photo IDs for many less important activities:
“…you can’t get on a plane without a photo ID, you can’t buy a Sudafed without photo ID, you can’t check out a library book without photo ID, we need to protect the sanctity of our votes.” 
PFT then cherry picks his statement about libraries, giving a “Barely True” because localities don’t uniformly require photo IDs to check out books.

This part of the critique is concise and spot on. Hicks perhaps goes a little to excess later on in the review by implying that PolitiFact spins by intent. While that may not be the case, his anecdote fits with a large collection of similar ones that treat conservatives unfairly.

Anecdotal evidence shows bias based on such cumulative results.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kaiser Health News: "Just Call Me Liar of the Year"

Kaiser Health News publishes Cato Institute's Michael F. Cannon's politely blistering rebuke of PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2010:
ObamaCare is not a government takeover, I learned from PolitiFact, because it "uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage."
But wait. In my research, I found that distinction between public and private to be illusory: what difference is there between a public system where the government taxes and spends your money, and a "private" system where the government forces you to spend your money in the same way?
 Cannon's column is a must-read.

Though Cannon makes the same point made by other critics including the Wall Street Journal, the Kaiser name carries a certain cachet that boosts the power of this critique.

To reiterate what I've written before, PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" for 2010 will hurt them more in the long run than it will hurt anybody else.  It goes a long way toward cementing PolitiFact's reputation as a partisan news source.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Texas Public Policy Foundation: "Putting Politifact’s “truth-o-meter” to the test"

David Guenthner of the Texas Public Policy Foundation seems to have the goods on yet another example of specious reasoning from PolitiFact:
On Monday, Talmadge Heflin issued a statement in response to the Comptroller’s biennial revenue estimate. Later in the day, Heflin wrote a “Speaking Freely” post on “the myth of the $27 billion shortfall,” which contained a thorough refutation of the dollar figure cited in some media accounts.

This morning, a project called Politifact – which in Texas operates under the umbrella of the Austin American-Statesman – applied its “truth-o-meter” to the closing statement of Heflin’s blog post, in which he concluded that claims of a $27 billion budget shortfall “are flat-out false.”

Somehow, Politifact concluded that Heflin’s statement was “false”. For real?
(read on)
Compare Guenthner's analysis with the take from PolitiFact and it seems the former has much the better argument.

Rick Perry vs. The World: "Politifact is Politipinion: Houston IS a sanctuary city"

Texas blogger Evan at Rick Perry vs. The World provides a terrific example of poor reasoning at PolitiFact:
Politifact holds itself out as a John Roberts-like umpire of political campaigns, dispassionately calling balls and strikes.

If you're going to do that, then you have to be careful. You have to refrain from favoring certain candidates. And neutral people should overwhelmingly not only agree, but think that disagreement would be childish.
(read on)
In a nutshell, the city of Houston carries out a policy that qualifies it as a "sanctuary city."  But because the policy is not statutory but instead a result of administrative policy, PolitiFact says it's "False" to call Houston a sanctuary city.  A critic of Democratic candidate for governor Bill White took the "Truth-O-Meter hit.

I am delighted with my recent discovery of, a blog dedicated to reviewing the findings of PolitiFact Texas.

The site is slick in a vaguely PolitiFact-ish way, with Pinnochiotic avatars denoting the various degrees of journalistic torsion in PolitiFact Texas stories.  My initial survey of the PolitiHack entries suggests good quality analysis, and I expect to highlight various individual entries over time.

For tonight, I'll stick with adding to the "PolitiFact's Dectractors" section in the sidebar along with restricted domains within Bewz Newz 'n' Vewz, Hoystory, Sublime Bloviations and the Washington Examiner.  Pay PolitiHack Tracker a visit.

Anchor Rising: "Rating of John Loughlin on Social Security: PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter Earns Itself a 'Pants on Fire'"

Blogger Monique Chartier of Anchor Rising noticed when PolitiFact failed to admit that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme:
Here's the definition of a Ponzi scheme.
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors.
Here's how social security works.
The Social Security system is funded primarily by federal taxation of payrolls.

Doubtless PolitiFact might defend itself by noting that "fraud" occurs in Chartier's definition of "Ponzi scheme."  The PolitiFact argument insists against the evidence that Ponzi schemes require fraud in order to fit the proper definition.

But that's only true if we cherry-pick the definition.

Chartier's criticism hits its mark, but would have more force if she pointed out that fraud is not a necessary feature of Ponzi schemes and Ponzi financing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bill Hallowell (Mediaite): "PoltiFact ‘Lie of the Year’ Falls Flat"

I'm not sure how I missed seeing this column on PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" for 2010.  It might be my favorite so far.

Bill Hallowell scores direct hits on the most important points, so be sure to read it all:
Last Week, PolitiFact designated the term “government takeover of health care” as its “lie of the year”.  While this title certainly holds some surface merit (the final Congressional product does not denotatively constitute a takeover), the way in which PolitiFact dismisses the Republican attack line as a total fabrication is troubling.  Furthermore, PolitiFact brushes off public reaction as a mere byproduct of campaign politics, rather than an overt rejection of big government philosophy.  Accusing Republicans of flat out lying without offering a full context is journalistically irresponsible.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Washington Examiner: "Is Obamacare a government takeover of the healthcare system? In important ways, it is"

Enjoy yet another fact-based takedown of PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" story, this time from Hans Bader:
PolitiFact based its claim that Obamacare will not lead to a government takeover of healthcare on the false contention that Obamacare is not like European socialized medicine because the "European approach" is "where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees." But that was a straw man argument, since the government does not own all the hospitals or employ most of the doctors even in many European nations long run by Socialist parties.
Bader's critique also encompasses an approving reference to the "Lie of the Year" nonsense that appeared in the Washington Post under Glenn Kessler's byline.

Don't miss the kicker at the end.  It's well targeted.

Federal Review: "Politifact: The Selective Ignorance of Meaning"

"Winston" at a conservative blog called "Federal Review" fires off a blistering review of two PolitiFact fact checks:
Create a website purporting to “fact check” politicians, win a Pulitzer Prize. That’s a short history of Politifact, an operation of the St. Petersburg Times. Complete with fun little “Truth-o-meter” graphics that range from True to Pants-on-Fire, illustrated with, you guessed it. Flames.

I’ve been reading this for some time and have always come away uneasy. Often because they try to fact-check political opinion and not-unreasonable-predictions about the results of policy proposals. But today, I have discovered two good, illustrative examples.
Winston deals with the fact check of an ad attacking congressional candidate Zack Space and another concerning Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).  The former contains the more damaging observations.  Winston gets to the point quickly and gets in some damaging shots.  Worth reading, so get busy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Internet Scofflaw: "Decision-making, Dithering, and Sitting on Desks"

Internet Scofflaw has an excellent piece detailing PolitiFact's habit of ignoring the common usage of a word or phrase in order to make a rating fit a particular narrative.

In October of 2009 Robert Gibbs and Dick Cheney exchanged barbs over the handling of troop requests, and PolitiFact inevitably came to Gibbs' defense. Internet Scofflaw starts with some background, and explains why Gibbs made a bogus statement in the first place-
Last month, Robert Gibbs fired back at Dick Cheney’s (inarguable) accusation that President Obama is dithering about Afghanistan, saying:

[Gibbs:] "The vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan. Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president’s, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March."

Obviously Gibbs’s effort to tie in the vice president is rubbish, since the vice president is not in the chain of command. But what about the central accusation that the request sat on President Bush’s desk for more than eight months?
That final question is exactly what PolitiFact decided to rate. Not surprisingly, they rated Gibbs True-
The public doesn't have access to [U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David] McKiernan's formal request for more troops. But we know that he was talking about it publicly in September 2008, at least 4 1/2 months before the end of Bush's term. And McKiernan told reporters his request went back nearly to the start of his taking over as the top U.S. commander four months before that. That would suggest Gibbs' claim is correct that it had been sitting on desks in the White House for eight months. And so we rule his statement True.
Internet Scofflaw does the legwork PolitiFact fails to do and comes up with a more honest analysis of Gibb's statement-
If “sat on desks” meant the same thing as “was not fully fulfilled”, then Gibbs and the St. Petersburg Times would have a strong case. (Of course, by that definition, Gen. McChrystal’s request will probably be sitting on Obama’s desk forever, since all indications are that it will not be fully granted.) But that’s not what the phrase means. To “sit on a desk” means that no decision was made. That is not at all the case with Gen. McKiernan’s requests for troops.

As ABC News explains, McKiernan made several requests for troops over his months in command, totaling about 30,000 troops. Some of the requests were granted, but most were not, as the Surge in Iraq was making heavy demands. Instead, the Bush administration tried to get NATO to fill the gap. By the fall of 2008 it was clear that NATO was not going to come through, and with the Surge winding down, more US troops were available for Afghanistan and were sent. In March 2009, with Iraq quiet and troops withdrawals underway, the balance was sent by President Obama.

So what you saw from President Bush is the normal process of allocating scarce military resources where they are most needed. In other words, you saw decision-making. In March you saw the same from President Obama. But now, on the other hand, you see Obama unable to make a decision. Dithering.
It's important to note that PolitiFact's close relationship with ABC News didn't begin until 2010. That being said it's interesting that PolitiFact ignored ABC reporter Jake Tapper's conclusion on his blog (made the day prior to PolitiFact's rating)-
So Gibbs’s claim that for “eight months” McKiernan’s request for troops “sat on desks” isn’t accurate.
Internet Scofflaw ends with a question we find ourselves asking all the time-
What use is a fact checker that sides with the administration regardless of the facts?
You can read the full piece here.

Bryan adds:

The Internet Scofflaw assessment largely agrees with one I published at the time.  Please excuse me as I risk upper extremity injury by patting myself on the back.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ethics Alarms: "'Lie of the Year'? Hardly"

Here's yet another well-reasoned takedown of PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" for 2010, this time from Jack Marshall's blog "Ethics Alarms."

Marshall provides an excellent summary of the PolitiFact's fundamental error:
The point of disagreement depends on one’s tolerance for  an outside  authority’s interference with free choice. Every new control, regulation or alteration in options reduces the autonomy of individuals and the marketplace. To supporters of government micromanagement of individuals and commerce, this isn’t a “takeover,” because significant choices still remain with the consumer and the industry. To those who object to all but the most unobtrusive government controls, it is a takeover, because the government is deciding which options are available.

Regardless of who is right, and this is just part of a long-standing argument about what is the proper role of government, calling one side’s sincere and defensible characterization of the law  1) a lie, and 2) “the lie of the year” is taking partisan sides, especially obnoxious for a website that promotes its lack of bias.

As usual, read the whole thing. "Politifact’s Lie of the Year Is An Exaggeration With Elements of Truth"

Hat tip to Jim Lakely at The Heartland Institute.'s Peter Suderman wrote a concise and spicy criticism of PolitiFact's choice for "Lie of the Year" for 2010 ("government takeover").

Read it all, but here's my favorite bit:
Nor do they mention that the PPACA sets up a system in which health insurers are regulated so extensively that they are more or less transformed into quasi-public utilities. The new regulations include a rule that caps administrative costs and profits as a percentage of premium revenue—a rule that pushes the boundaries of the government’s regulatory authority so much that the Congressional Budget Office has said that if the rules were any stricter, it would turn the health insurance industry into “an essentially governmental program.”

So no, it’s not a gub’mint takeover. It’s just pretty damn close.

Engineering Thinking: "PolitiFact Earns 'Pants On Fire' Rating"

Blogger Ed Walker of "Engineering Thinking," produced a list of deficiencies at PolitiFact likely to lead to biased findings.  After presenting the list, Walker drops the hammer:
PolitiFact scores a big fat zero, ranking it among sites devoted to UFOs, ghosts, psychic phenomena, and other organizations that dabble in pseudoscience.

This does not mean that PolitFact is completely biased or always wrong. It does mean that they have no published scientific standards, so it is not possible to evaluate their work. Without such standards, evaluation criteria may shift from issue to issue, perhaps allowing them to indulge in subtle favoritism toward people or issues they like, while awarding “pants on fire” ratings to those they don’t.
Obviously Walker is evaluating PolitiFact on some level, so when he says it is not possible to evaluate their work, he seems to be saying that PolitiFact's system (the continuum between "Pants on Fire" and "True") does not feature criteria adequate for separating one grade from another, as with the "ridiculous" criterion noted here, as though there is an objective determination of "ridiculous."

Walker accurately indicts PolitiFact on the issue of shifting standards--PolitiFact certainly does vary in its approach to fact checking, as shown by results such as finding it simultaneously "True" that Joe Biden did not advocate partitioning Iraq while also finding it "Half True" that Joe Biden advocated partitioning Iraq.

Walker's short post makes some terrific points, so please read it all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Foundry: "PolitiFact Declares Century-Long Economic Debate Over"

Brian Riedl works as an economist for the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.  From time to time, PolitiFact uses Riedl as an expert source.

At times, expert sources come away unsatisfied with how their contribution was treated.

Enter Riedl, writing for The Foundry:
Typically, fact-checking is limited to checking, well, verifiable facts. Whether the budget deficit is rising, how much Washington spends on Social Security, and what provisions are in the latest health care bill are not open to interpretation. They can be verified factually.

Whether the economy would have performed better or worse without the President’s $862 billion stimulus is an analytical and theoretical argument. It is not a “fact” to be “checked.”

PolitiFact’s analysis displays a lack of understanding of the complexities of macroeconomic analysis. They cite as a “consensus” four studies claiming that the stimulus worked – yet those studies were all essentially Keynesian economic models, so of course they will declare that a Keynesian stimulus worked.
Riedl noted that PolitiFact essentially accepted the accuracy of estimates made by Keynesians using Keynesian models to measure the job creation effectiveness of the stimulus bill, and in turn used those numbers to rate the accuracy of a statement by President Obama.  Here's how that method appeared in PolitiFact's conclusion:
With the notable exception of conservatives, the independent economists who have produced studies agree that the stimulus has saved or created upwards of 1 million jobs, and that the bill will likely create another million or so jobs in 2010. These numbers are based on a "counterfactual" study that is an estimate subject to some professional disagreement. And within this broad range of expert opinion, Obama chose a number on the high side. The numbers could easily be less than what he suggests. So we rate his claim Half True.
 Obama may be flatly incorrect, in other words, and therefore receives a "Half True" rating from PolitiFact.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wall Street Journal-PolitiFiction, True 'lies' about ObamaCare

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page took aim at PolitiFact's 2010 Lie of the Year. They take exception with Politifact's suggestion that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a free market solution to health care issues-
"We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover," the editors of PolitiFact announce portentously. "'Government takeover' conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees," whereas ObamaCare "is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market." PolitiFact makes it sound as if ObamaCare were drawn up by President Friedrich Hayek, with amendments from House Speaker Ayn Rand.
The Journal also joins a chorus of detractors that find PolitiFact's definition of "government takeover" spurious-
Evidently, it doesn't count as a government takeover unless the means of production are confiscated. "The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors," the editors write, and while "it's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers," they'll still be nominally private too.

In fact—if we may use that term without PolitiFact's seal of approval—at the heart of ObamaCare is a vast expansion of federal control over how U.S. health care is financed, and thus delivered. The regulations that PolitiFact waves off are designed to convert insurers into government contractors in the business of fulfilling political demands, with enormous implications for the future of U.S. medicine. All citizens will be required to pay into this system, regardless of their individual needs or preferences. Sounds like a government takeover to us.
Finally, the editorial questions PolitiFact's ability to remain as non-partisan as they claim, and suggests they injected commentary into the Lie of the Year piece itself-
PolitiFact is run by the St. Petersburg Times and has marketed itself to other news organizations on the pretense of impartiality. Like other "fact checking" enterprises, its animating conceit is that opinions are what ideologues have, when in reality PolitiFact's curators also have political views and values that influence their judgments about facts and who is right in any debate.

In this case, they even claim that the government takeover slogan "played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health-care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections." In other words, voters turned so strongly against Democrats because Republicans "lied," and not because of, oh, anything the Democrats did while they were running Congress. Is that a "fact" or a political judgment? Just asking.
Read the full editorial here. Also check out letters to the editor in response to the column here. PolitiFact linked to the Journal's criticism on their Facebook page, and the comments from their fans are worth a read.

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion: "Media Bias In Action: Providence Journal Politicizes PolitiFact"

Blogger and associate clinical professor (Cornell Law School) William A. Jacobson posted some poignant words about PolitiFact during the 2009 election season:
The Providence Journal, the only statewide daily newspaper in Rhode Island which dominates news coverage, has endorsed Democrat David Cicilline for Congress in the RI-01 District, running against John Loughlin.  As my readers know, this is my home district and I support Loughlin.

Unfortunately, the PolitiFact feature at ProJo reflects these political leanings, as substantially identical analyses result in PolitiFact ratings more favorable to Cicilline.  I'll assume this bias is unintended, but the bias is there nonetheless.
 Jacobson goes on to chronicle a number of inconsistencies in the political coverage at PolitiFact Rhode Island.  On one point I'll disagree with his language, however.  The Providence Journal is simply continuing the tradition of politization at PolitiFact.

Individually, anecdotes showing disparate treatment are a relatively weak evidence of ideological bias.  A large collection of anecdotes, particularly where the evidence is clear, do provide reasonable support to the charge of bias, however.

Hat tip to JD for pointing out that I spelled "on" with an "e" on the end in the next-to-last paragraph.  The typo is hereby fixed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The American Spectator: PolitiFact's Fixers

Back in 2009, PolitiFact used Matthew Vadum as an expert source in a story about ACORN and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

Vadum was subsequently appalled by the way the story turned out, as shown by his contribution to The American Spectator:
Journalistic bias is one thing, but journalistic arrogance is quite another.

When reporters claiming to be neutral political fact-checkers go beyond mere reporting to state with absolute certainty things they cannot possibly know, they run the risk of churning out political opinion masquerading as high-minded investigative journalism.
Be sure to read the whole thing.

Peg Kaplan on the why of it

JD brought my attention to a blog post by one Peg Kaplan.

Kaplan has had some opportunity to roam the halls at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.  The Poynter Institute owns the St. Petersburg Times, which in turn brought PolitiFact into being.

Kaplan's take:
I agree with those in Professor Burgess-Jackson's post who slam Politifact for its analysis about Obamacare. Nevertheless, I know some of the people who work at Politifact, through the Poynter Institute. These people are not stupid and they are not dishonest. I am certain that they believe what they write.

If they are wrong, then how is this possible?
Kaplan's experience agrees with mine.  The journalists I have met are sincere and conscientious as a rule.  Kaplan's explanation also agrees with the one to which I hold:  The newsroom culture steeps its membership in a cloud of accepted wisdom.  That accepted wisdom isn't always particularly wise.  The homogeneity of the newsroom culture discourages journalists from asking some of the right questions.  The blind spot in their perceptions can't help but manifest in their work. 

This type of bias, by the way, is an institutional bias.

Do read the whole of Kaplan's post, and follow the links to Burgess-Jackson's post.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Carolina Journal-The Sophistry of Liberal Fact-Check Websites

Jon Ham at the Carolina Journal writes a scathing opinion piece that questions both the non-partisan credibility of PolitiFact, and also the merits of their Lie of the Year-
Anyone paying attention remembers that ObamaCare was a government takeover bid. That's what it was when Hillary Clinton was pushing it in 1993, and the 2009 Obama plan was, too. It included a "public option," which was really a "government option" to any objective news outlet. But PolitiFact sniffs that, while this may have been true before the "public option" was taken out of the bill, it wasn't accurate once that onerous provision was excised.

[Quoting PolitiFact] "By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan."

Robert Gibbs couldn't have spun that any better. PolitiFact maintains that anyone who continued to use "government takeover" after the public option was killed is a liar, and a big fat "liar of the year," to boot.
Ham goes on to raise the issue of the new authority granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services-
Even a quick reading of the health care bill reveals an astounding level of government control of health care, even without the public option...The Health and Human Services bureaucracy is given an unprecedented degree of power by the ample use of the phrase "the Secretary shall, by regulation" in the bill. Any objective person would conclude that 2,000 pages of new regulations devoted to one industry constitutes a "government takeover" by definition, but not PolitiFact.
As evidence of their bias, Ham also points out the Lie of the Year runner up, Michelle Bachmann's claim regarding President Obama's trip to India-
This is a textbook example of the half-truth way liberal fact-check sites operate. Yes, Bachmann did say that the Obama trip would cost $200 million a day, but it was not her claim. It was the claim of an Indian mainstream news outlet, the Press Trust of India, and was picked up by other news outlets. Bachmann was simply repeating what had been reported.

The quick determination by PolitiFact readers that Bachmann's repeating of this report constitutes a "lie," and PolitiFact's evident acceptance of that determination, tells you all you need to know about the readers and PolitiFact. Why did they brand only Bachmann as a liar, an not the the many others who repeated what was thought to be an accurate report? I'd venture that it had something to do with the left's Bachmann Derangement Syndrome, second in severity only to Palin Derangement Syndrome.
The entire article can be found here.

Washington Examiner-Politifact Is Often More Politics Than Facts

Mark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner exposes flaws in Politifact's rating of Rand Paul. The Kentuckian pointed out a disparity between private and public worker compensation-
The average federal employee makes $120,000 a year. The average private employee makes $60,000 a year.
Politifact rated him False. They explained that Paul might confuse his audience-
Since most people usually think about how much they, their spouses and their colleagues get paid in salary alone — not salary plus benefits — we think most people hearing this statement would assume that Paul means that the average federal employee gets paid a salary of $120,000. That’s simply not true.
Politifact offered no evidence that "most people" would think Paul was talking about salary alone. And Hemingway was quick to point this out-
"So what they’re saying is not that what Paul said was literally false, but that according to how they think people will understand what he said, it’s not true. Come again?"
Hemingway concludes that despite Politifact framing the fact-check to their own ambiguous standards, they still missed the mark-
"Politifact does make one relevant point about the average private sector worker not being an apples-to-apples comparison to the average federal worker, but that has no bearing on what Paul actually said and hardly justifies the exorbitant compensation federal workers get."
You can read the entire article here.

You can also read a companion critique at Sublime Bloviations, that points out another flaw with the Politifact piece. Three months prior to the Paul rating Politifact came to a different conclusion when they rated Mike Keown.

This represents three separate fact checks on basically the same issue with two different conclusions.


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.