Higgins may have pre-empted a similar story I had planned for Zebra Fact Check. He did such a good job there's little room for improvement except by making the story longer and more detailed.
The first of these six Politifact columns ran Oct. 7, 2008, and evaluated Obama's comment, “[I]f you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it.” It rated this as “true” since Obama was “accurately describing his [then-proposed] health care plan.”Higgins makes a great point in the second paragraph. What kind of fact check is this for then-candidate Obama? A test of whether he can accurately describe what his health care plan promised at the time?
In other words, it was grading him on the basis of “Did he really promise this?” and not the more relevant “Is this a plausible promise?”
The inside story on health care reform from the Obama campaign helps fill in that picture. Obama was telling people what they wanted to hear.
Perhaps of greatest interest to me was the response Higgins received from PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan:
I asked Politifact’s editors whether they still stood by these columns. Editor Angie Holan did not respond directly, instead emailing me a round up of their more recent columns on aspects of the Obamacare debate. I asked again and she did not respond.It seems that way sometimes. I've sent a fair number of emails to PolitiFact writer/editor teams pointing out unambiguous errors. It's normal to receive no response and to see the error go uncorrected.
Apparently, Politifact thinks accountability is something that only applies to other people.