Friday, July 7, 2017

PolitiFact, Lauren Carroll, pathetic CYA

With a post on July 1, 2017, we noted PolitiFact's absurdity in keeping the "True" rating on Hillary Clinton's claim that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies "all concluded" that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election.

PolitiFact has noticed that not enough people accept 2+2=5, however, so departing PolitiFact writer Lauren Carroll returned with week with a pathetic attempt to justify her earlier fact check.

This is unbelievable.

Carroll's setup:
Back in October 2016, we rated this statement by then-candidate Hillary Clinton as True: "We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election."

Many readers have asked us about this rating since the New York Times and Associated Press issued their corrections.
Carroll then repeats PolitiFact's original excuse that since the Director of National Intelligence speaks for all 17 agencies, it somehow follows that 17 agencies "all concluded" that Russia interfered with the U.S. election.

And the punchline (bold emphasis added):
We asked experts again this week if Clinton’s claim was correct or not.

"In the context of a national debate, her answer was a reasonable inference from the DNI statement," Cordero said, emphasizing that the statement said, "The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident" in its assessment.

Aftergood said it’s fair to say the Director of National Intelligence speaks for the intelligence community, but that doesn’t always mean there is unamity across the community, and it’s possible that some organizations disagree.

But in the case of the Russia investigation, there is no evidence of disagreement among members of the intelligence community.
Put simply, either the people who work at PolitiFact are stupid, or else they think you're stupid.

PolitiFact claims it asked its cited experts whether Clinton's claim was correct.

PolitiFact then shares with its readers responses that do not tell them whether the experts think Clinton's claim was correct.

1) "In the context of a national debate, her answer was a reasonable inference from the DNI statement" 

It's one thing to make a reasonable inference. It's another thing whether the inference was true. If a person shows up at your home soaking wet, it may be a reasonable inference that it's raining outside. The inference isn't necessarily correct.

The quotation of Carrie Cordero does not answer whether Clinton's claim was correct.

How does a fact checker not know that?

 2) PolitiFact paraphrases expert Steven Aftergood: "Aftergood said it’s fair to say the Director of National Intelligence speaks for the intelligence community, but that doesn’t always mean there is unamity [sic] across the community, and it’s possible that some organizations disagree."

The paraphrase of Aftergood appears to make our point. Even if the Director of National Intelligence speaks for all 17 agencies it does not follow that all 17 agencies agreed with the finding. Put another way, even if Clinton's inference was reasonable the more recent reports show that it was wrong. The 17 agencies did not all reach the same conclusion independently, contrary to what Clinton implied.

And that's it.

Seriously, that's it.

PolitiFact trots out this absolutely pathetic CYA attempt and expects people to take it seriously?

May it never be.

The evidence from the experts does not support PolitiFact's judgment, yet PolitiFact uses that evidence to support its judgment.

Ridiculous.



Afters

Maybe they'll be able to teach Carroll some logic at UC Berkeley School of Law.



Correction July 7, 2017: Removed an extraneous "the" preceding "PolitiFact" in our first paragraph following our first quotation of PolitiFact.

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