Monday, July 23, 2012

Ohio Watchdog: "PolitiFact slams GOP spokeswoman for ‘literally true’ statement"

Jon Cassidy and Ohio Watchdog give us an 8th installment in its series on PolitiFact Ohio, this time examining PolitiFact's rating of the Ohio Republican Party and spokeswoman Izzy Santa (bold emphasis in the original):
Joe Guillen, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter writing for PolitiFact Ohio, was determined to find fault.

“The claim is literally true because it includes both Brown and his allies,” Guillen wrote, and he should have stopped right there. If it’s literally true, are we supposed to worry it might be figuratively untrue? It’s a number, not a simile.

It turns out that Guillen’s beef is that Santa’s declaration changed the subject.
It turns out that we have to rely on Guillen alone for the context of Santa's remarks.  Guillen insists that the context indicates Santa was talking about "outside money."  Part of Guillen's evidence for the PolitiFact story is Guillen's July 10 story for the Plain Dealer that likewise insists--based on a partial quotation and Guillen's paraphrase--that Santa was talking about "outside money":
Izzy Santa, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Republican Party, said Redfern’s criticisms are not credible because special interest groups supporting Brown “are plotting to spend over $13 million.”
Was Guillen's paraphrase justified?

Cassidy apparently has the text of the email Santa sent to reporters (reformatted quotation):
After Redfern’s July 10 press conference, she sent out an email to reporters:
Redfern is the least credible person to be commenting on outside spending when it comes to Ohio’s U.S. Senate race. Sherrod Brown and his special interest allies in Washington are plotting to spend over $13 million, with no end in sight. It’s clear that Brown and his supporters are having to spend this type of money because Brown’s out-of-touch record has exposed him to Ohioans as a 38-year politician and Washington insider who puts politics over people.

If the above represents the full context of Santa's response, then Guillen has misrepresented her.  Santa specifically wrote "Brown and his special interest allies" and Guillen Sentenceshopped that into "special interest groups" minus Brown.  Guillen's paraphrase, in other words, changed Santa's meaning.  And Guillen proceeds to fact check his paraphrase and blame it on Santa.

Guillen probably shouldn't expect more than a lump of coal for Christmas this year.

Rather than interpreting "Sherrod Brown and his special interest allies" contrary to its literal meaning, he should have inquired further as to how Santa justified calling Redfern "the least credible person" to comment on outside spending.

Visit Ohio Watchdog to read the whole of Cassidy's report.

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