About PolitiFact Bias/FAQ

About:

PolitiFact Bias exists to expose the defective fact checking apparatus at PolitiFact, with special focus on the problems that help show PolitiFact's marked ideological bias.

PFB was started in early 2011 by Jeff D. and Bryan White, independent bloggers who share a sense of outrage that PolitiFact often peddles outrageous slant as objective news.

As PolitiFact expands its state operations, the number of stories it produces far exceeds our capacity to review and correct even just the most egregious examples of journalistic error or bias.  We aim to encourage an army of Davids to counteract the mistakes and bias in PolitiFact's stories.

Write a critique of a PolitiFact story and we'll either link it or publish it if it's up to standard.

Write regular critiques and we'll add your site to our list of "PolitiFact's Detractors."

Over time, we'll be adding more material to help serve as a guide to dependably detecting errors of consistency and ideological bias in PolitiFact stories.

Ideally, the high quality deluge of criticism will force PolitiFact to step up its game and start treating both sides the same.  And if that unlikely event fails to occur then at least we'll end up with a pool of well-crafted free speech with which to answer the PolitiFact part of the mainstream media misinformation machine.



FAQ

How can I trust you when you admit to partisanship?
Our admission of partisanship is a trademark of our honesty--one you won't get from PolitiFact.  We rely on the quality of our work to earn your trust.  We won't knowingly post bad information or spurious arguments.  We do choose much of our subject matter based on ideological preferences.  We discuss our individual political and philosophical leanings on our personal blogs, found linked on the home page.

How do you know PolitiFact is biased?
Through a variety of factors.  Journalists tend to lean ideologically left.  The St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Times, which started PolitiFact in conjunction with the Congressional Quarterly, is a traditionally liberal paper.  We note that PolitiFact's stories appear to damage Republicans far more often than Democrats despite the fact that PF tends to choose about as many stories dealing with Republicans as for Democrats.  If the selection process was blind then either proportions should be approximately even or else the party with worse ratings should receive more ratings overall according to what PolitiFact lists as its selection criteria.  Plus our independent research helps confirm the hypothesis.

Who pays you to do this?
This site is not a commercial venture and we are not paid to do this. It is written in our precious amounts of free time. We are not connected to any PAC or campaign formally or informally.

You admit that sometimes PolitiFact is unfair to Democrats.  Doesn't that mean PolitiFact isn't biased?
No, it doesn't mean that at all, or at least it proves nothing of the kind.  Ideological bias at PolitiFact is most likely expressed via a preponderance of unfair harm hitting Republicans rather than Democrats.  If 95 out of 100 Democrat stories harm Democrats and 100 out of 100 Republican stories harm Republicans then that indicates a bias against Republicans, albeit a relatively insignificant bias.  We think the liberal bias is far more pervasive than that, touching selection bias as well as ideological spin.

Do you think PolitiFact is deliberately biased?
Bryan thinks PolitiFact is probably not deliberately biased.  But he isn't entirely free of doubt on that point.  Some specific examples are hard to explain without considering intent, and PolitiFact's system does such a good job of potentially institutionalizing reporter and editorial bias that it's hard to believe the designers failed to consider the consequences of their actions. Jeff thinks PolitiFact is more appropriately described as an editorial page or opinion site. Personal bias can thwart sincere attempts at objectivity, especially when the bias is uniformly shared among colleagues. Jeff also believes PolitiFact does their readers a disservice when they proclaim they are immune from the pitfalls of bias in their reporting.  He thinks it's implausible that PolitiFact reporters and editors are entirely unaware of how their political inclinations affect their work.

What is selection bias?
Selection bias, in the context of journalism, means that the subject matter and the approach to the subject matter are not chosen at random.  The factors determining the non-random selections typically offer opportunities for an ideological skewing of the subject matter.  Jeff composed a post that explains our view of the bias problem.


"Nothing To See Here"?  What's that about?
The "Nothing To See Here" feature compares a conservative selection bias with the one used at PolitiFact.  Read more about it here.