Thursday, October 20, 2016

More notes on PolitiFact's debate night blogging

We don't have time to completely go through PolitiFact's election night blogging, but we'll keep picking out a few gems for comment as the week winds down.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton wants open borders. A WikiLeaks release offered Trump's claim some support.

Observe how PolitiFact rationalizes calling Trump's claim "Mostly False":
In a brief speech expert from 2013, Clinton purportedly says, "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable."

But we don’t have more context about what Clinton meant by "open borders" because she has not released the full speech. Her campaign has said she was talking about clean energy across the hemisphere.

We rated Trump’s claim Mostly False.
What other context is necessary to understand Clinton's comment? "Hemispheric common market" is pretty clear. "Open trade" is pretty clear. "Open borders" is pretty clear, particularly in the context of "hemispheric common market" and "open trade."

PolitiFact eventually falls back on "he said, she said" journalism by citing the Clinton campaign's explanation of her remarks: "Her campaign has said she was talking about clean energy across the hemisphere." So it was just about having "open borders" so we could trade clean energy in this hemisphere?

Does that even make any sense?

What kind of clean energy gets traded from one nation to another? Wind? Solar? Clean energy proponents bemoan barriers to investment, but what does "open borders" have to do with that?

PolitiFact is using the abbreviated context as a "get out of jail, free" card for Clinton. The context of her speech provides enough context to find Trump's claim at least "Half True."
HALF TRUE – The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
In what way does the definition not fit, other than PolitiFact not knowing for sure Trump's statement is only partially accurate, or not knowing the statement was taken out of context?

Forgive us for pretending that PolitiFact's definitions for its ratings are not ultimately subjective.


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