Sunday, July 22, 2012

PolitiFact "a distillery for truth"?

How can one blame the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for publishing an editorial that calls PolitiFact "a distillery for truth"?  The AJC, after all, is one of PolitiFact's state affiliates, the home of PolitiFact Georgia.

Blame aside, however, what a load of codswallop.

There’s something about PolitiFact.

Maybe it’s the clarity it forces on public discourse. Perhaps it’s the eye-catching Truth-O-Meter with its brutal simplicity. Or could it be its distaste for nuance in a world grown comfortable with wiggle room?
Anybody else detect a paradox when a device of "brutal simplicity" is said to force clarity on public discourse?

 The "Truth-O-Meter" and its "brutal simplicity" are a maul used to butcher a steer.  Rather than distinct cuts of beef such as sirloin or ribs, one ends up with hamburger blended with all the humblest portions of the unfortunate beast.  Hotdog/hamburger hash, as it were.  PolitiFact provides all the clarity of Soylent Green, and creates its own rambling vistas of wiggle room.

PolitiFact is powerful because it represents the essence of what we do. It is intensely distilled journalism that filters out the good intentions, mendacity and ignorance that lead public officials to fracture the truth occasionally. Like a great scotch, the appeal is in its simplicity. That’s why politicians and power brokers hate it, if “hate” is a strong enough word.
Are we talking about the same PolitiFact?

I could maybe see the AJC's point if newspaper journalists weren't at least as capable of good intentions, mendacity and ignorance as politicians.

Hold on--there's a nugget amidst the self-congratulatory pablum:
The state has so few powerful Democrats, that PolitiFact Georgia has to look to Democrats from elsewhere to avoid giving the impression that it trains its fire only on Republicans.
AJC editorialist Bert Roughton Jr. just spilled the beans that PolitiFact Georgia engages in the type of compensatory rating that critics have long suspected PolitiFact of doing.  Some PolitiFact operations, such as Ohio's, deny using the technique.  So either somebody's not giving us the facts or else PolitiFact's standards vary.

Like a great scotch.

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