Sunday, January 29, 2012

PFB Smackdown x2: Daily (Kos) double

Unfortunately it remains far easier to locate poor criticism of PolitiFact than it is to locate good criticism.

First up for PFB Smackdown, "Hunter" from the Daily Kos. Hunter thinks that PolitiFact blew its rating of Mitt Romney's claim that he never voted for a Democrat if a Republican was on the ballot.

Hunter:
(P)eople had a wee bit of a problem with this, because the context was Romney's vote for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary. The Republicans certainly were having a primary that day as well: The incumbent president, George H.W. Bush, was running against Pat Buchanan. Now we can all look back now and have a good laugh at permanent cable news fixture Pat Buchanan taking on the incumbent president, but they both were certainly "on the ballot" in the 1992 primaries. So Mitt's completely making stuff up on this one—his critics have got him dead to rights.
One should not ignore the fact that the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries are two different elections.  There was no Republican on the ballot for the Democratic presidential primary.  Given the context, it is overpoweringly obvious that Romney was saying that he votes for Republicans whenever Republicans are on the ballot against Democrats, as with a general election.  The critics have to ignore one of the primary salient facts to have Romney "dead to rights."  We agree on the point that PolitiFact blew the rating, though for different reasons.  The context makes his statement true, assuming the Tsongas case is the worst would-be exception.

Next up, "dcg2," also writing for the Daily Kos, noticed a supposed trend with PolitiFact's front page material:
I took a quick look at Politifact's home page, and -- surprise, surprise... found two more quick examples of their front page of taking statements from Democrats that they admit are true, but calling them half-true anyway. Just a quick look at the Politifact's front page shows even more outrages -- all against Democrats ...
The author included no list of stories in his post, so it's hard to verify his claim to some extent, but it seems likely dcg2 was somehow able to ignore PolitiFact's flubs of Obama's milk regulations claim, Romney's voting claim and Mitch Daniels claim about the percentage of those under 30 years of age not going to work for the day ("Because many of them were in school"!).

PolitiFact announced in the summer of 2011 that it would start grading statistical statements in light of arguments regarding cause and effect.  Critics like these two Kossacks simply ignore relevant data.  And that makes for poor critiques.

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