Monday, October 23, 2017

PolitiFact's Evangelism & Revival Tour III

PolitiFact's Katie Sanders PolitiSplains why conservatives should trust PolitiFact

PolitiFact reached out to red state residents in three states, Alabama, Oklahoma and West Virginia thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation. We're calling it PolitiFact's Evangelism and Revival Tour thanks to its resemblance to religious "love-bombing."

In our post from this series published on Oct. 22, 2017, we wondered what specific reasons PolitiFact was offering conservatives to convince them they should trust PolitiFact.

We're supposing the red state unwashed are hearing little more than the spiel PolitiFact's Katie Sanders gave in West Virginia.

MetroNews and Alex Thomas reported:
Organization deputy editor Katie Sanders said following the 2016 presidential campaign, they noticed a trend among conservatives regarding a distrust of news organizations.

“We are concerned about that because we are independent, we’re nonpartisan, we call out both sides, yet there’s still this skepticism,” she said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
PolitiFact is neutral and trustworthy because it is "independent"?

We like the response of the University of Miami's Joe Uscinski to that one:
We believe by "independent" PolitiFact means it does not allow outside entities to guide its process. The same is true of PolitiFact Bias. Does that make us unbiased?

PolitiFact is neutral and trustworthy because it is "nonpartisan"? 

Think tanks nearly all call themselves "nonpartisan." Yet news reports routinely report that a think tank is "right-leaning" or "left-leaning." "Nonpartisan" does not automatically equate with "unbiased," let alone neutral and trustworthy.

We might as well mention that PolitiFact Bias is "nonpartisan" by the same definition think-tanks (and likely PolitiFact) use (everything but "unbiased"). Does that make us unbiased?

PolitiFact is neutral and trustworthy because it calls out both sides?

Bush made mistakes. Obama made mistakes. Look, Ma, I'm neutral!

Calling out both sides does nothing to guarantee neutrality or trustworthiness. It's perfectly possible to call out one side with kid gloves and the other with a hammer.

At PolitiFact Bias, we think PolitiFact is often guilty of applying unequal standards, and we created this site in part to highlight such cases. We point out that PolitiFact sometimes unfairly harms Democrats as well as Republicans. Does that make us unbiased?

The argument for trust that Sanders used counts as flim-flam.

If PolitiFact wants trust from conservatives and moderates it will need a better sales pitch. That is, a sales pitch with specifics that actually address the issues that lead to the lack of trust.

Get to it, PolitiFact.

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