Friday, August 8, 2014

PolitiFact Wisconsin tries to scorch Scott Walker with its own burning britches

Though our research shows PolitiFact Wisconsin may have an axe to grind against the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, that doesn't necessarily mean PF Wisconsin isn't biased against Republicans.

On Aug. 4, 2014, PolitiFact Wisconsin published a hacktastic fact check of Governor Scott Walker.  This one certainly belongs in PolitiFact's crowded annals of fact checks too absurd or inept to qualify as fact checks.

Here's the statement from Walker, via Wisconsin Public Radio, that drew PF Wisconsin's attention:
"Mitt Romney did not run his campaign on the basis of arguing his experience in the business world was a reason to vote for him,” Walker said. “If he had, then I think it would be fair game to say then you need to look at all of his experience.”
PF Wisconsin contacted the Walker campaign about the statement.  Walker spokesperson Alleigh Marré said Walker was saying Romney didn't base his campaign all or mostly on his business experience.

While that reasoning may sound perfectly plausible to reasonable people, PolitiFact Wisconsin found reason to reject the Walker campaign's explanation:
But Walker did not couch his remark that way; he said Romney didn’t offer his business experience even as "a" reason to support him.

That’s a rewrite of history.

We're supposing that Walker's statement looked like this through the distorted PolitiLens:
Unfortunately for PolitiFact Wisconsin, striking "run his campaign on the basis of" and changing "arguing" to "argue" represent a rewrite of history.  With the quotation intact, Marré's explanation makes good sense and must warrant strong consideration as the correct interpretation of Walker's statement.

PolitiFact Wisconsin's argument based on a telltale "a" doesn't pass the sniff test.

Despite the obvious reasonable explanation, PolitiFact Wisconsin insists that if Romney offered his business experience as a reason to vote for him, then that means Walker's claim is ridiculously false.

So PolitiFact Wisconsin produces the smoking gun:  Scott Walker introduced Romney at a campaign rally and praised his business experience!

We reviewed the video clip.  Yes, Walker praises Romney's business experience.  But he he goes on to say that the big reason to vote for Romney stems from is leadership as governor in a state dominated by Democrats.

In short, the supposed smoking gun, along with the rest of PolitiFact's evidence, dovetails extremely well with the explanation from the Walker campaign.

Here's Walker's speech introducing Romney.

We can't imagine what would possess PolitiFact Wisconsin stalwarts Dave Umhoefer and Greg Borowski to see this as a "Pants on Fire" falsehood from Walker.  Unless they're liberally biased, of course.  Then it makes sense.

A serious fact check would accept the reasonable explanation from the Romney (bww 8-9-14) Walker campaign and then test whether the Burke campaign's emphasis on her business career differs significantly from Romney's.  Maybe Walker's claim would check out, and maybe it wouldn't.  If only there was somebody out there to help us find the truth in politics.  But alas!

For what it's worth, Burke's campaign website does emphasize her private sector business experience quite a bit.


  1. "Don't find fault, find a remedy" - Henry Ford

  2. Mitch Clark,

    The remedy for people thinking PolitiFact can do no wrong is finding fault.

    After that, the therapy consists of preferring more reliable fact checkers like, Zebra Fact Check (me) and the Washington Post Fact Checker.

    Thanks for reading.