Monday, May 4, 2015

PunditFact and GDP revisited

In a post from May 2, 2015 we looked at an error on GDP rankings that PunditFact ruled "Pants on Fire." Showtime's Jim Lampley, speaking about the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, said the revenue from the fight exceeded the GDP of 29 countries. A commenter on PolitiFact's Facebook page pointed out a parallel error PunditFact included in its fact check:

None of the 50 states produce a GDP below $400 million. PunditFact made a more severe error, in terms of exaggeration, than Lampley did. If even one state had a GDP below $400 million then PolitiFact exaggerated by 3,700 percent compared to Lampley's 383 percent exaggeration.

Lampley gets a 500+ word article highlighting his error, more-or-less permanently archived at PolitiFact. PunditFact, in contrast, gets the following treatment from PolitiFact:
Correction: All 50 U.S. states have a gross state product in excess of $400 million. An earlier version of this fact-check was incrorrect [sic] on this point.
We think this correction serves pretty effectively to sweep PunditFact's mistake under the rug. Yes, PunditFact implicitly admits suggesting at least one state had a gross state product less than $400 million. But the correction obscures the nature of the error, particularly its magnitude.

PolitiFact maintains of habit of incomplete transparency with its corrections.

Transparent correction May 6, 2015:  We put "greater" in the next-to-last paragraph when we meant "less." We substituted "less" for "greater" to correct the mistake.

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