Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Commentary: 'PolitiFact’s Ebola Distortions'

Seth Mandel has another deft dissection of PolitiFact's 2014 "Lie of the Year" up at Commentary:
Different statements being grouped together into one “lie”–especially when they’re not lies, even if they’re mistaken–will not do wonders for PolitiFact’s already rock-bottom credibility. But in fact it’s really worse than that. Here’s PolitiFact’s explanation for their choice of “Lie of the Year,” demonstrating beyond any semblance of a doubt that those who run PolitiFact don’t understand the concept around which they’ve supposedly built their business model:
Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.
The claims — all wrong — distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.
You’ll notice right there that PolitiFact engages in its own bit of shameless dishonesty.
Mandel makes a great point about PolitiFact's careless reporting of its "Lie of the Year" selection, a point we're also poised to make by using even more blatant examples from Aaron Sharockman, the editor of PolitiFact's "PunditFact" venture.

It's bad enough to botch the fact-checking end of things. Telling people about the botched fact checks using a new layer of falsehoods and distortions intensifies the deceptive effects.

This is nothing out of the ordinary for PolitiFact.

We'll once again emphasize the point we made in our post yesterday: Naming more than one "Lie of the Year" has some utility when it comes to deflecting criticism. Even Mandel mumbled something about being fair to PolitiFact owing to the multiple winners before he eviscerated their inclusion of Will's claim about the airborne spread of Ebola.

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