Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Power Line: "On crime, Trump's right and PolitiFact is wrong"

We profusely thank Power Line writer Paul Mirengoff for linking to PolitiFact Bias prominently in his post.

Power Line blog slammed PolitiFact today over its slipshod fact check of Donald Trump's claim that crime is increasing. PolitiFact absurdly rated Trump's claim "Pants on Fire" despite not considering crime data more recent than 2014:
How did Politifact err on such a basic question? It erred by looking at no data past 2014. Sean Kennedy at AEI Ideas blows the whistle.

Trump made his statement on June 7, 2016. Thus, his claim that crime is rising can only be fact-checked by analyzing current data. By failing to do so, Politifact confirmed that it is either incompetent, hopelessly biased, or both.
While it's true PolitiFact relied at least partly on a pair of experts it interviewed, Mirengoff and Kennedy make a great point. Where was PolitiFact in January 2016 when the Washington Post was claiming an increase in violent crime for early 2015 compared to early 2014?
The number of violent crimes committed across the country was up in the first half of 2015 compared with the same period a year earlier, with increases seen across the country and spanning different types of crimes, federal authorities said Tuesday.

The numbers of murders, rapes, assaults and robberies were all up over the first six months of 2015. Overall violent crime was up 1.7 percent, an increase that followed two consecutive years of declines, according to the FBI.
"No truth for you!" say the Truth Nazis at PolitiFact.

What About PolitiFact's Neutral Experts?


Sometimes we survey PolitiFact's list of experts to see if they have any obvious political leanings.

What have we here?

James Alan Fox: Just one FEC individual donation listed. To Elizabeth Warren, $800. It may not be PolitiFact's expert if there's another James Fox at Northeastern University. Warren's a Democrat.

Raymond Paternoster: The background information on Paternoster was equivocal. Paternoster has authored studies on race and the application of the death penalty. As with what he told PolitiFact, it's hard to confidently pin down his stance (bold emphasis added):
"Mr. Trump is wrong if he is talking about overall crime and even violent crime," agreed University of Maryland criminologist Raymond Paternoster. Any possible upward swing in the past year or so wouldn’t show up in the data currently available, he said.
Paternoster's admission in bold makes us very curious about the context of PolitiFact's interview. What question was Paternoster asked when he answered Trump is wrong? How could Paternoster agree that Trump is wrong without recent data to back the assessment?

More News Reports


The Associated Press:
CHICAGO (AP) — Violent crimes — from homicides and rapes to robberies — have been on the rise in many major U.S. cities, yet experts can't point to a single reason why and the jump isn't enough to suggest there's a trend.

Still, it is stumping law enforcement officials, who are seeking a way to combat the problem.

"It's being reported on at local levels, but in my view, it's not getting the attention at the national level it deserves," FBI Director James Comey said recently. "I don't know what the answer is, but holy cow, do we have a problem."
 A bunch of liars?

KUTV (Utah) cited a study by the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice:
A new study of crime statistics from major cities across the country reveals a rising number of murders in 2015, with violence in three cities fueling half of that increase.

Crime data for the 30 largest cities in the U.S. released by the Brennan Center for Justice indicates a 13.3 percent rise in murders in 2015, but analysts say it is too soon to determine whether this reflects a broader trend.
Note the Brennan Center study involves a comparison between 2015 and 2014. Violent crime in 2016 has thus far built on the violent crime rate in 2015.

As Power Line noted, a fact checker should check the facts before ruling on the facts.

Edit 6/22/2016: Added link to WaPo story in relevant graph. Changed "in" to "an" same graph-Jeff 0857 PST

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