Wednesday, July 3, 2013

John Sexton: "Politifact Faults Perry for Believing Wendy Davis' Misleading Statements"

Via, writer John Sexton notes that a claim PolitiFact rated "Half True" from Texas governor Rick Perry about state senator Wendy Davis carries substantial similarity to claims Davis made about herself:
Where might Gov. Perry have gotten the misleading impression that Wendy Davis was born into "difficult circumstances?" Politifact points out that Davis' own website says "She began working after school at 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings." The same line appears on this Wendy Davis website as well. What these sites do not say is that her mother had only recently become single, having divorced when Davis was 11 years old. The impression is given that Davis grew up in a single parent home.
Sexton's pointing to a problem of ambiguity.  Perry's statement was ambiguous, for we need not understand "born into" as the specific time one was born.  Davis was born into a family destined for divorce, leaving her mother as the "single mother" Davis highlighted on her website.

Ambiguous statements help bring out the partisan in fact checkers because it's easy to make the favorable interpretation for those one favors and a lot tougher to do it for those less liked.