Thursday, February 18, 2016

PolitiFact crazy about guns

Is PolitiFact crazy about guns?

Consider the evidence.

Back on Nov. 15, 2013, PolitiFact gave Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) a "Mostly False" rating for claiming gun prosecutions were down 30 percent under President Obama from what they were under President Bush. The rationale PolitiFact used to back its rating was crazy.

PolitiFact preferred measuring the trend in prosecutions using "all charges" instead of "lead charges." PolitiFact used data from the Department of Justice's United States Attorneys Office. Fine. We can work with that:


PolitiFact used the third data column, representing the number of defendants against whom firearm charges were filed. That number is higher than the number of cases in the first data column.

PolitiFact then veered into loony land by claiming that the best way to measure the trend in prosecutions was to compare 2002 under Bush to 2012 under Obama. Seriously:
The most reliable number may be the 10.3 percent increase in gun prosecutions between fiscal years 2002 and 2012. This rate actually indicates the trend moving in the opposite direction from what Cruz asserted.
Why would comparing the numbers for just two arbitrarily chosen years serve as the best method for measuring a trend over a period of about ten years? We have no idea.

PolitiFact argues that the third column represents the most "inclusive" number. But it doesn't follow that cherry-picking figures from the column representing the most inclusive number will yield the most accurate trend line. Rather, that method would appear to represent arbitrary cherry-picking. After all, why should 2002 serve as a representative year of gun prosecutions under Bush? In fact, the figure from 2002 is nothing other than the lowest number in the series PolitiFact presented to its readers.

Add to that the fact that the 2002 figure is at the very start of the series representing Bush, and one cannot accept the figure as any kind of trend for the Bush administration.


Statistics best show trends when we compare year-to-year changes over time. As with a graph:


A federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Each two-term president will have complete responsibility for only seven fiscal years. Clinton shared FY 2001 with Bush. Bush shared FY 2009 with Obama. Of Bush's full seven fiscal years, PolitiFact used for its comparison the only one that Obama could have improved on.

PolitiFact finds its most revealing trend in gun prosecutions by comparing Bush's first full fiscal year with Obama's third full fiscal year and ignoring the data from all other fiscal years. PolitiFact's "most inclusive method" excluded most of the data. We can imagine no sensible justifying rationale for that method.

PolitiFact concluded by suggesting Cruz was well off the mark because the best method showed a trend toward increasing gun prosecutions under Obama (bold emphasis added):
Cruz said prosecution of gun crimes under the Bush administration was 30 percent higher than it is under Obama.

It’s possible to get a decline that big by cherry-picking the data, but the most inclusive method actually produces an increase. Cruz also overstates the role of the president in determining prosecution rates. We rate Cruz’s claim Mostly False.
Examples like this should rightly do tremendous damage to PolitiFact's credibility. Remember, PolitiFact's "star chamber" met to collectively consider this fact check. How can such rotten methodology go unnoticed by fact check professionals?


Afters

This is not the first time PolitiFact has pulled shenanigans with gun statistics.

Odds are it will not be the last.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Unbeliebable Hilarity of Abortion

If you're the kind of prude that can't joke about abortion, then PunditFact isn't the nonpartisan fact-checker for you.

Recently PunditFacter C. Eugene Emery Jr. wondered if Sarah Palin made a true claim about the abortion stances of Donald Trump and Justin Bieber. Palin claimed that both Trump and Bieber held "pro-choice" positions in the past but now disavow those positions. The post originally caught my attention because I couldn't figure out what exactly Emery Jr. was fact checking. The closest we get to an explanation is this:






I'm not sure if the term "conversion" is intentional snark directed at religious believers or if it's just an inapt choice of words, but in any event the sentence is vague. Is PundiFact simply trying to verify Bieber was formerly pro-choice and is now opposed to abortion? Are they determining if Bieber came to his new position via an affirmation of faith or if his new public stance is a matter of political convenience? Without knowing specifically what Emery Jr. is checking we can't determine if the evidence supports his ruling or if it's even a verifiable fact to check. [Note: I used a screengrab for PunditFact's sentence instead of quoting the text for reasons discussed below.]

If ambiguity was the only problem with the piece I would have probably ignored it. Unfortunately for his readers, Emery Jr. chose to use the serious topic of abortion to display his comedic talents. Note the opening sentence of the post:
What do Donald Trump and Justin Bieber have in common?
Humongous hair?
Big bucks?
How about a case of abortion contortion?
Ha! Get it? Abortion contortion! ZING!

And that's just the beginning of the yuk-yuk tone throughout the article. Emery Jr's entire post is peppered with a repeat gag wherein he uses a specific word that is hyperlinked to a Justin Bieber video. For example, when Emery Jr. uses the word "sorry," the text links to Justin Bieber's music video for the song "Sorry." Emery Jr. seems to think this spoof is so hilarious he repeats it with the word "believe," and the phrases "never say never," "No Pressure," and "What do you mean."

Whatever one's views on abortion, it is not a funny topic. At the very least it involves a complicated decision and often an invasive surgery for a woman. For those who subscribe to the notion that life begins somewhere between conception and birth, abortion can quite sincerely be viewed as the death of a viable human being.

It's beyond the scope and purpose of this website to weigh in on the moral, scientific, and philosophical debate surrounding abortion. But anyone holding conventionally accepted sensibilities and decency recognizes that abortion is not a subject ripe for clever barbs and smartassery. 

Eugene Emery Jr. and his editor, Katie Sanders, betray a woeful lack of both seriousness and good judgement when they yuk it up over such a solemn issue. Further, their humor displays a comfort level with mockery that we think a right-leaning voice in PunditFact's newsroom would disapprove of.

It seems that for PunditFact, abortion jokes aren't just acceptable watercooler chat, they're worthy of publishing.

PunditFact's poor choices don't end there. In the screengrab above readers will note that the word "overboard" is highlighted indicating a hyperlink. The link leads to a YouTube version of Bieber's song "Overboard."  We chose not to link to it ourselves because unlike all the other instances where PunditFact links to the official Justin Bieber Vevo account, Emery Jr. links to a pirated version of the "Overboard" song, presumably unauthorized by Bieber or his label.

In case readers had any doubt about PunditFact's ethics, note that making a joke in an abortion article was so important to them they chose to promote music piracy to make the gag work when they couldn't find an official version offered by the artist. (Perhaps this was accidental, but that would only highlight their shoddy editing standards.)

PunditFact's journalistic clowns had another embarrassing trick up their sleeve that my co-editor Bryan pointed out. Here's how PunditFact laid out some of its evidence:
The Chicago Sun-Times said in a Jan. 21, 2013, story that it had spoken with an unnamed "longtime Bieber associate" who claimed, "I don't believe he agrees with his mom on this issue."

Some might interpret that to mean that Bieber is now pro-abortion — which would signal a new position on abortion that, sorry, does not fit Palin’s point. However, PolitiFact has a policy of not relying on unnamed or secondhand sources to speak for what others believe.
In case you missed the subtlety, PunditFact includes a source that they immediately disavow since it goes against PolitiFact's policy. If there's a policy against using unnamed sources then why include an unnamed source in your piece? This is just another example in a long list of cases where the PolitiFact enterprise ignores its own policies.

Finally, we get to the rating. Unsurprisingly, Palin gets a "False" rating but it's the way they arrived at that conclusion that is so offensive to those of us that care about the truth:
At PolitiFact, we believe it's the responsibility of the person making a claim to provide the evidence to back it up...Palin’s claim is not substantiated.
In PunditFact's world, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Of course, PolitiFact often shirks its own burden of proof.

Perhaps it's a stretch to infer any ideological leanings from these PunditFacters behaving so daftly while writing about abortion. But beyond whatever bias it may or may not expose, Emery Jr's piece showcases a jaw-dropping level of poor taste and substandard journalism.

C. Eugene Emery Jr. is funny, but he's only funny by mistake.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Did PolitiFact do Internet research in the 3rd century?

In a Feb. 9, 2016 fact check of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, PolitiFact twice claimed its research took place in the 3rd century.
PolitiFact's source list shows that the bulk of writer Amy Sherman's research was done in February 2016. But on two occasions Sherman evidently went back in time about 1,800 years to do her research, both times apparently representing Internet research.

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.

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.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dustin Siggins: "Fact-checking the fact-checkers: Did an abortion defunding bill try ‘to redefine rape’?"

Dustin Siggins continues to establish himself as one of the finest critics of the disastrously inept fact-checking outfit "PolitiFact."

Siggins' latest takedown of PolitiFact's hapless liberal bloggers looks at PolitiFact's fact check of the liberal interest group Emily's List, which claimed a Republican legislator had tried to redefine rape.

Newfangled PolitiFact Colorado looked at whether Emily's List was right that another Colorado Republican,  Mike Coffman, voted to redefine rape and found the Emily's List claim "Mostly True":
Emily’s List said that Coffman "co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape." The record shows Coffman did co-sponsor the bill to redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt "forcible rape." Yet he later voted on the floor for an amended version that had removed the "forcible" modifier from the bill.
How did it come to pass that it's "Mostly True" that redefining a ban on federal funding for abortions redefines rape?

Siggins, writing for LifeSiteNews, placed some focus on that inconsistency:
[PolitiFact Colorado] wrote, "Critics said the 'forcible rape' language could rule out other forms of sexual assault that are considered rape, including statutory rape, attacks where women are drugged or threatened, and date rapes."

Likewise, he quoted Coffman's Democratic opponent, Morgan Carroll, who said, "Rape is about the lack of consent – not the degree of force – and this definition takes us backwards."

However, which "definition" of rape are we talking about? Generally speaking, there are at least two broad definitions of rape – sexual intercourse between two people when one party is unwilling and sexual intercourse between a legal adult and a legal minor (which can be consensual).
Siggins went on to express doubt that having sex with an incapacitated person fails to count as a forcible rape.

We found support for Siggins' skepticism at Justia.com:
Forcible Rape—Rape by Force

Definition: The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.

[...]

"Against her will" includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of her youth). The ability of the victim to give consent must be a professional determination by the law enforcement agency. The age of the victim, of course, plays a critical role in this determination. Individuals do not mature mentally at the same rate. For example, no 4-year-old is capable of consenting, whereas victims aged 10 or 12 may need to be assessed within the specific circumstances regarding the giving of their consent.
Put simply, the legal definition of "forcible rape" in effect during 2011, when Coffman's bill was debated, included lack of consent.

PolitiFact Colorado cited unnamed "critics" who argued otherwise:
Critics said the "forcible rape" language could rule out other forms of sexual assault that are considered rape, including statutory rape, attacks where women are drugged or threatened, and date rapes.
Does it matter to PolitiFact Colorado whether the "critics" were right? Is it okay to simply assume the anonymous critics raised a plausible and likely problem with the proposed law?
  • PolitiFact Colorado neglects to define "forcible rape"
  • PolitiFact Colorado offers no evidence it looked into the definition of "forcible rape"
  • PolitiFact Colorado cited anonymous "critics" as a key part of its analysis
We think at minimum a neutral fact-checker would take a more detailed look than PolitiFact Colorado did at the definition of "forcible rape."


Afters

We contacted the author and the editor of the PolitiFact Colorado fact check about problems we noted above. We will update this article if we receive any reply.


Correction Feb. 12, 2016: Corrected one instance in which the word "abortion" was mistakenly substituted for "rape".

Friday, February 5, 2016

Two Clinton fibs, two "Half True" ratings from PolitiFact

PolitiFact is too good to us.

Seriously. We don't have any formal agreement with PolitiFact binding them to produce horrible fact-checking in order to make sure we have stuff to write. They just do it anyway.

Case in point, co-editor Jeff D sent me an email about this item earlier today.

During the Democratic presidential debate on Feb. 4, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said she waited until President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was finalized before passing judgment on it.

Try to wrap your head around PolitiFact's reasoning:
Did Clinton really withhold her support until the terms of the proposal had been finalized?

[...]

Speaking in Australia in 2012, Clinton hailed the deal as "setting the gold standard."

"This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field," Clinton said. "And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world's total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment."
First, Clinton condemned the deal after it was finalized. It doesn't even make sense to ask whether Clinton withheld her support for the deal until after it was finalized. She never supported it after it was finalized. PolitiFact's headline makes the same error:


The statement supposedly from Clinton in PolitiFact's headline is flatly false. Clinton endorsed the deal before negotiations were finalized. The "Half True" doesn't belong within 10 miles of PolitiFact's headline.

If Clinton said she did not pass judgment on the deal before it was finalized that is likewise false.

The only way Clinton can escape with a shred of truth on this one is if she was saying she did not condemn the deal until after it was finalized. The problem? That statement does nothing to address the concern in the question posed by debate moderator Chuck Todd (transcript via The New York Times, bold emphasis added):
TODD: Secretary Clinton, let me turn to the issue of trade. In the ’90s you supported NAFTA. But you opposed it when you ran for the president in 2008. As secretary of state, you supported TPP, and then — which, of course, is that trade agreement with a lot of Asian countries, but you now oppose it as you make your second bid for president.

If elected, should Democrats expect that once you’re in office you will then become supportive of these trade agreements again?

CLINTON: You know, Chuck, I’ve only had responsibility for voting for trade agreements as a senator. And I voted a multinational trade agreement when I was senator, the CAFTA agreement, because I did not believe it was in the best interests of the workers of America, of our incomes, and I opposed it.

I did hope that the TPP, negotiated by this administration, would put to rest a lot of the concerns that many people have expressed about trade agreements. And I said that I was holding out that hope that it would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for.

I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.
It looks to us (see particularly the second paragraph of Clinton's response) like Clinton tried to downplay the support she offered the deal when she was Secretary of State. She seems to say that she didn't really support the deal back then. Apparently she was just being being a good soldier for President Obama, leaving her free to oppose the deal after she left the administration.

So ... no flip-flop because she was just doing Obama's bidding? And endorsing the deal before it was finalized is simply giving the administration--of which she was a part!--the benefit of the doubt?

Clinton's answer doesn't make much sense to us. She offers a thin excuse for her flip-flop.

PolitiFact's fact check doesn't make sense, either. The claim from PolitiFact's headline is false but receives a "Half True" rating. And it doesn't correctly capture what Clinton was saying in the first place.

What Clinton actually said might have been half true. She did not condemn the deal until after it was finalized. Though that claim carries a healthy dollop of misdirection downplaying her apparently insincere early endorsement of the TPP.

And did Clinton condemn the deal privately within the administration? Did President Obama hear from Clinton what it would take for her to support the deal? Ask the question, debate moderators.

The Second Fib

 Wait, didn't we say something about a second fib rated "Half True"?

Yes. Yes, we did.

The fact check we discuss above--containing the first fib--was from C. Eugene Emery, Jr., recently added to the staff at PolitiFact National after leading fact-check efforts for PolitiFact's Rhode Island franchise.

It looks like Emery relied on an earlier PolitiFact fact check for his analysis. That article contains the second fib, and probably helped nudge Emery toward his interpretation of Clinton's 2016 debate comments.

In that Oct. 13, 2015 fact check, it looks like Clinton did say she had reserved judgment on the TPP while Secretary of State. But with the contradictory evidence available and included in its story, PolitiFact gifted Clinton with a "Half True" rating on her claim that while serving as Secretary of State she merely "hoped" the TPP was the type of deal she could support.

 Try to figure out which half was true from PolitiFact's conclusion:
Clinton said when she was secretary of state, she was reserving judgment but "hoped (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) would be the gold standard."

She’s twisting her 2012 remarks a bit. Clinton said, "This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements," which is a more confident claim than if she had said she "hoped" it would meet that standard. This is in contrast to more recent comments where Clinton said she had concerns about the deal and that she ultimately opposes it.

The statement is distorting her previous comments. We rate it Half True.
Hooray for objective standards in fact-checking?

Michael F. Cannon: "Clean Up Your Act, PolitiFact"

Michael F. Cannon, the heath care expert who started a boycott of PolitiFact years ago over its penchant for calling people liars (without proving it), has an article at Forbes showing how PolitiFact flubbed a Jan. 29, 2016 rating of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Cruz called Obamacare the nation's No. 1 job killer and received a "Pants on Fire" rating from PolitiFact.

We can't do better than Cannon in summarizing his article:
In their rush to label Ted Cruz a liar, PolitiFact ignored economic theory, ignored economic consensus, ignored problems with the evidence they had amassed, ignored that some of the evidence they collected supports Cruz, ignored reams of anecdotal evidence, and dismissed Congressional Budget Office projections based on nothing more than a subjective and arbitrary distinction PolitiFact themselves invented.
But the summary's even better accompanied by the details, so please visit Forbes to read the whole thing.

Especially damning is PolitiFact's omission of Congressional Budget Office projections of labor loss as a result of the Affordable Care Act. PolitiFact's fact-check of Cruz does not mention the CBO but links to earlier PolitiFact fact checks dealing with the CBO's projections. Cannon succinctly explains the problem with PolitiFact's spin on the CBO's reports.

Our post just before this one talks about examining whether PolitiFact's corrections benefit Democrats more than Republicans. The other side of that coin whether PolitiFact acts more readily in response to strong criticisms from the left or from the right.

Here's betting PolitiFact will run no correction as a result of Cannon's criticisms. Indeed, we deem it very unlikely that PolitiFact will even publicly note Cannon's criticism.

That's just how PolitiFact rolls.


Afters

We can't resist attaching this howler from PolitiFact's fact check of Cruz.

Did you know the Affordable Care Act is actually a job creator? Read (bold emphasis added):
All of the job numbers have moved in a positive direction since April 2010, the first full month after President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. The unemployment rate has moved steadily from 9.9 percent to 5 percent. The economy has added about 10.7 million jobs. And the number of working people who have part-time work but would rather have full-time work has fallen by nearly 3 million. There was a brief rise in that number between April and September 2010, but the longer term trend is clearly one of decline.

That’s not to say the Affordable Care Act deserves all the credit. The fact is many factors drive the labor market and the overall recovery from the Great Recession is the dominant player in this regard.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's PolitiFact arguing that correlation is evidence of causation despite the involvement of multiple causes. PolitiFact says that's a sin when conservative politicians do it.

 It's still sinful but not as much so when liberal politicians do it (research project is underway).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

As The "Wheel O' Meter" Turns



In the dog-bites-man department, PolitiFact continues to do fact-checking the wrong way this week.

It started with a fact check of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Cruz said blacks gained $5,000 in median income under Reagan. PolitiFact's crack fact-checking team, veteran writer Louis Jacobson and founding editor Bill Adair's heir, Angie Drobnic Holan performed their fact-checking magic and found Cruz's claim "Mostly True."

But a day passed, and PolitiFact unpublished the article and replaced it with a rewritten version giving Cruz a "Mostly False" rating. Why? Somebody complained:
CORRECTION, Feb. 4, 2016: After we published this fact-check, a reader wrote us to say that in our original article, we had used the wrong Census Bureau data table to analyze Cruz’s statement and rate it Mostly True. However, using the proper data table, Cruz is actually incorrect, so we have changed the rating to Mostly False. 
This case gives us a smorgasbord of items to criticize.
  • PolitiFact's A team committed a substantial flub
  • The archived "original version" hides Holan's role in editing the flawed version
  • The archived "original version" wipes (with a cloth?) the hotlinks leading to the wrong table 
  • Neither the new nor the old version bothered to look at how Cruz fared using nominal dollars
Having noted the main problems with PolitiFact's treatment of this issue, we'll address two questions. First, what specific mistake did PolitiFact make before publishing its less-than-totally-transparent correction? Second, was Cruz correct using nominal dollars?

The Wrong Chart

We found the PolitiFact's key figures from its original article on the same chart it used in its revised article. The chart gave figures for the United States as a whole followed by corresponding figures for different regions of the country. It appears PolitiFact used figures for the West region to test Cruz's claim.


Nominal Dollars

Using nominal dollars, Cruz's claim was correct. That's typically enough to eke a "Half True" from the PolitiFact gang's "Truth-O-Meter."

We reproduced the relevant part of the chart, putting the figures PolitiFact used in its new fact check in black boxes. The adjacent figures for nominal dollars ("Current dollars") we placed within red boxes. The difference over Reagan's two terms in office was $5,643.




We're not saying there's nothing wrong with giving increases in median income using nominal dollars. It's potentially every bit as misleading as when Democrats use the raw gender wage gap to emphasize the need for legislation punishing pay differences based solely on gender discrimination. What we are saying is Cruz made a true statement given a normal interpretation of his words and PolitiFact failed to acknowledge it either in the text of the story or in its (new) rating of Cruz.

PolitiFact tends to rate that bit of liberal misdirection no lower than "Half True," by the way.

What will it take for PolitiFact to regard its "Truth-O-Meter" rating system as a mistake?


Afters

Does PolitiFact's faulty first rating of Cruz show PolitiFact has a pro-conservative bias?

We don't think that's the best explanation. The more parsimonious explanation is that PolitiFact simply made a mistake. So this example shows PolitiFact's fallibility. This was the type of mistake bloggers make.

This example does point toward another potential evidence of bias at PolitiFact. Which political party receives the most benefit when PolitiFact runs a correction?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Left Jab: PolitiFact National vs. PF New Hampshire on per capita health care spending

I was hunting for some liberal criticism of PolitiFact associated with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, one associated with polling numbers. I found a pretty good item aside from the one I sought.

Reddit commenter "wittenbunk" offered the following observation:
Yesterday Politifact published a rating of Bernie's often repeated claim that "We spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other country". They rated the claim false.

The issue is that on April 30th Politifact rated a nearly identical claim by Ben Carson Carson was quoted as "We spent twice as much per capita for health care in this country as the next closest nation". Politifact rated the claim Mostly False.

Despite the fact that Carson's wording allowed for much less interpretation, Politifact gave his quote a more truthful rating.
Wittenbunk went on to say that his example qualifies as a rare clear example of media bias. The post was solid up through that point. PolitiFact clearly used inconsistent standards in achieving the two different ratings for Sanders and Carson. But single cases of inconsistency make poor examples of media bias.

That's why we've always said the appropriate way to look for media bias at PolitiFact is to look for trends in unfair harm. Sen. Sanders was hit with unfair harm in this case. I've documented a separate case of unfair harm to Sanders at Zebra Fact Check. There may well be others.

This case does feature some special circumstances. It's a rating from a state operation, PolitiFact New Hampshire, conflicting with the rating from PolitiFact National. PolitiFact National published the rating that's probably harder to justify. We'll note that the story was written by intern Will Cabaniss, but since PolitiFact's "star chamber" of editors decides the rating we're not inclined to blame Cabaniss.

Note to liberal critics of PolitiFact: Open your eyes. This type of inconsistency is normal at PolitiFact.