Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Weekly Standard: PolitiFact Can’t Get Its Story Straight on Romneycare and Abortion

Does the truth have a shelf-life?

Jeffrey H. Anderson, writing at the Weekly Standard, takes the fact-finding DeLorean all the way back to 2007 to highlight PolitiFact's conflicting ratings on RomneyCare's coverage of abortions. Before you read Anderson's article, check out the graphics for the remarkably dissimilar PolitiFact articles:

In 2007, PolitiFact says RomneyCare covers abortions:

Image clipped from PolitiFact.com

In 2012, the issue isn't so clear:

Image clipped from PolitiFact.com

Anderson notes:
[The Gingrich rating] sounds reasonable enough — except that the 2007 PolitiFact verdict directly refutes it. 
At first glance the statements have just enough wiggle room between them to possibly have different ratings. But Anderson's article explains there's not enough to justify different ratings..

Also observe how PolitiFact presented Newt's statement. Newt claimed "Romney signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer-funded abortions." Notice PolitiFact's first question: "Did Mitt Romney make taxpayer funded abortion the law of the land?" The difference is that abortion's status as a covered procedure prior to Romney enacting the legislation is independent of Gingrich's claim. The context of Gingrich's ad was that Romney was sympathetic to abortion rights issues. Whether or not abortion was covered by taxpayers under existing Massachusetts law is irrelevant to Gingrich's point. The fact that Romney helped perpetuate the taxpayer funding is enough to make Gingrich's underlying argument accurate.

We'd also like to point out that for a Republican plan, RomneyCare has been the subject of several favorable articles, and even a ridiculous push poll, at PolitiFact. The cynical reader might surmise the kid glove treatment has something to do with RomneyCare's similarity to ObamaCare. Nah, that couldn't be it.

(1/31/2012) Corrected quote of Gingrich's PF statement. No change in context-Jeff

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