Monday, July 23, 2012

Big Journalism: "Politifact Yet to Report Two Glaring Falsehoods in Obama's Reelection Doc"

From earlier this year (March), Big Journalism's John Nolte took PolitiFact to task for its kindly treatment of the Obama documentary doubling as a campaign ad.

Nolte claimed PolitiFact missed at least two big whoppers in the film.  First, GM's supposed repayment of its bailout loans (PolitiFact later graded that claim "Half True"--see below).  Second, the repeated tale of Obama's mother supposedly denied health insurance coverage.

Nolte:
Politifact took a long hard look at the Obama reelection propaganda film and found it to be … mostly true!

Yep, 3 "mostly true's" to 1 "mostly untrue."

Never saw that coming. 
 Yes, PolitiFact succeeded in giving the documentary a favorable frame.

One of the claims PolitiFact found "Mostly True" was actually very misleading.  It portrayed President Bush as giving the auto companies money with no strings attached while Obama's strong leadership held the companies accountable.  The loans from the Bush administration came with plenty of strings, including the requirement that by March the recipients present the Obama administration with a plan for achieving solvency.

PolitiFact cuts Nolte's number from two to one

To PolitiFact's partial credit, it updated its story with a fact check of the claim that Chrysler and GM repaid their loans.

PolitiFact fails to receive full credit because the applicable standard doesn't pass the sniff test when paired with the standard recently applied to Mitt Romney.  In Romney's case a true statement was called misleading and was ruled "Mostly False."  The film made a partially true statement that was misleading and received a "Half True."

PolitiFact's combination of story selection bias and biased fact checking served President Obama well.

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