- "Best College Reviews, "8 colleges where students attend for free," Accessed Feb. 8, 206"
- "Interview, Jeffrey D. Marshall, University of Vermont director of research collections, Feb. 8, 206"
But seriously, why are we getting on PolitiFact's case over a pair of typographical errors?
That's simple. This is a test of PolitiFact's communications with its critics.
We contacted PolitiFact director Aaron Sharockman about messages we sent to PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan and PolitiFact Colorado writer Alan Gathright. We pointed out to Holan and Gathright that a fact check they produced skipped a critical step or two. The normal response from Holan to our criticisms, going back years, is silence. Gathright's new to PolitiFact, via the new Colorado franchise, so this was our first attempt to contact him.
Our message to Sharockman was sent following a message under the same heading forwarding to him our attempts to contact Holan and Gathright.
Sharockman recently used Twitter to express disdain at a critic who failed to contact PolitiFact before publishing a criticism:
Over the years, we've often attempted to obtain comment from PolitiFact about our criticisms. PolitiFact's favored response, by far, is none. In fairness to Sharockman, he's probably the easiest PolitiFact figure to draw out for a response. But Sharockman tends not to provide detailed responses, and even if he did we don't see how that excuses the rest of the PolitiFact crew.Hah! How many times have you have asked for our comment before writing about us? https://t.co/kUxkZOWJxJ
— Aaron Sharockman (@asharock) February 8, 2016
Academic Lucas Graves (former FactCheck.org and PolitiFact guest worker, left-leaning) addressed the way fact checkers reply to critics in the exhaustive overview of fact-checking he produced as his doctoral dissertation at Columbia University (bold emphasis added):
Fact-checkers anticipate criticism and develop reflexes for trying to defuse it. “We’re going to make the best calls we can, in a pretty gutsy form of journalism,” Bill Adair told NPR. “And when we do, I think it’s natural that the people on one side or the other of this very partisan world we live in are going to be unhappy.” One strategy is to responding [sic] only minimally or in carefully chosen venues, and always asserting their balance, often by showing the criticism they receive from the other side of the spectrum.We judge that Graves gives a highly accurate account of the strategy PolitiFact uses to address its critics, and we would highlight the "responding only minimally" element of the strategy Graves lays out.
Did PolitiFact do Internet research in the 3rd century?
No. But if PolitiFact fixes the typos in its resource list, then we at least have some evidence our criticism was received. And regarding the criticism we sent to Holan and Gathright, we will have more evidence that criticism was heard and ignored.
We think that's how PolitiFact rolls. Giving good explanations of its work to critics normally just does not count as a high priority.