Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hoystory: "Also known as 'Promise Kept'"

When does a promise qualify as being kept?  It depends.

Matthew Hoy of Hoystory highlights the stratospheric standards of the self-appointed Valuator of Vows. This time PolitiFact checks in on John Boehner's promise to fly commercial planes as opposed to military aircraft (a'la Nancy Pelosi).

What titillating travel tidbits did PolitiFact uncover?
[Boehner] spokesman, Michael Steel, told The Hill that Boehner had no intention of reconsidering a decision he previously made to forgo the use of a private jet for transportation to and from his Ohio district.

When we contacted Steel about this pledge, he said Boehner still flies commercial, and the only time he has flown on a military jet was for an overseas congressional delegation.
Promise Kept, right? Hoy fills us in on the promissory particulars:
His spokesman says he’s flying commercial. They’ve gone through his travel records and have uncovered no evidence that he’s using military jets.

So, they’ve got zero evidence that he’s not flying commercial. Zero evidence that he has failed to keep his pledge.

And the best they can muster is: “In the works?”
Poor Boehner. If only he had been rated back in the olden days of eight months ago when PolitiFact's standards for Promise Kept weren't so high.

In a Promise Kept rating we reviewed, Obama was given credit for his promise to "...establish a 10 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2012." To this day, PolitiFact has yet to cite the actual legislation that Obama signed establishing the 10 percent RPS standard. Our best guess is they haven't done so because it doesn't exist. Rather, Obama was given a Promise Kept simply because market conditions caused energy sources to meet the 10 percent figure, not because of any requirement Obama was able to enact.

Boehner honors his commitment, and it's considered In the Works. Obama fails to act, and earns a Promise Kept for something that happened without his action that was only tangentially related to his pledge in the first place. But it don't worry, PolitiFact is still objectively on the case:
We will continue to seek more concrete records of Boehner"s travels and follow this pledge. If readers see him flying commercial -- or on a military jet -- please let us know.
PolitiFact's inability to maintain consistent standards for the statements and people they rate offer a great example of how the editors' and writers' personal bias creeps into their work. PolitiFact is a collection of partisans convincing each other of their own impartiality. They should not be trusted as a news source, let alone as a fact checkers.   

Check out Hoystory for the full article. His snark is always worth the visit. And for more from Hoy on PolitiFact go here. And see our reviews of Hoy's work here.

Bryan adds:

When I read the PolitiFact item on Boehner I had little problem with it as an interim rating--but when I recall that PolitiFact gave President Obama a "Promise Kept" for troop increases that he's now in the process of reversing it does create some puzzlement.  Obama was, after all, supposedly preparing us for "meeting the challenges of the 21st century."  Inconsistency remains a rampant problem at PolitiFact.

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