Tuesday, June 16, 2015

PolitiFact Florida tweezes Governor Scott

We've noted PolitiFact's inconsistency in judging claims narrowly or broadly, using the tag "Tweezers or Tongs" to identify our stories highlighting those inconsistencies.

Our example this time comes from PolitiFact Florida. PF Florida has looked at Florida Governor Rick Scott's claims on environmental spending, working to ensure that people do not believe Florida is spending a record amount on environmental issues generally, even if it's true that the state is spending a record amount to revitalize the Everglades and its natural springs.

The latest rating, a "Pants on Fire" given to Scott for repeating the "record funding" claim drew our attention thanks to the lack of context PolitiFact offered. Supposedly Scott made the claim at a June 2 economic summit attended by, among others, a number of GOP presidential hopefuls.

PolitiFact Florida noted that Scott made his claim in the company of a number of other claims.
As he boasted about the state’s record during his economic summit for GOP presidential contenders in Orlando June 2, Scott reeled off a bunch of statistics about Florida’s budget and economy including this one: "If you care about the environment, we've got record funding."
We confirmed that by locating Scott's speech on CSPAN. We created a clip that provides the context of Scott's remarks.

We have two main questions.

What led PolitiFact Florida to tweeze out that one statement from Scott from the many it could have fact checked?

Should we consider the issue adequately fact-checked when PolitiFact Florida's story publishes no comparative spending totals and fails to separate state funding from federal funding?

We don't think so.


  1. What a whinefest..... Where are your comparrisons????

  2. Mary Scott asked: "Where are your comparisons????"

    We're not sure what you're asking, Mary Scott. We have an entire series of "tweezers and tongs" stories, so clicking on that tag will give you plenty of stories for comparison.

    The point is that PolitiFact had a great many factoids to examine from Scott's speech. Sometimes PolitiFact picks more than one factoid, sometimes not. The rationale appears to depend on whim. Pick one factoid and Scott looks great. Pick another and maybe he doesn't. Pick a group and maybe he ends up with "Half True."

    We also pointed out that PolitiFact has some holes in its fact check, such as making no effort to separate out federal spending. Would that be okay with you if it was a harsh rating of a Democrat governor? Or would you think that "record spending" should perhaps reflect only the state's share of environmental spending?