Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Michael F. Cannon: "Why I'm Boycotting PolitiFact"

Michael F. Cannon of the CATO Institute has often served PolitiFact as an expert source.  Today he explained why he no longer cooperates with PolitiFact in that capacity:
Reporters at have used me as a resource half a dozen times or so when fact-checking something someone said about health care reform. Sometimes we disagree about where the truth lies, but I’ve always been happy to help. That changed recently, and I should let PolitiFact’s reporters know why.
read it all
Cannon's boycott is conditional:   He will lift it after he is satisfied that PolitiFact has addressed problems with its past two "Lie of the Year" selections.

I'll quote one more important passage, though Cannon's column ought to be read completely through:
Some conservatives think PolitiFact is a left-wing outfit. I don’t think that’s true, and I have defended PolitiFact against that charge. I believe that PolitiFact’s reporters are earnestly doing their best to get at the truth. But there’s a tension between that belief and these errors. Whether PolitiFact recognizes and addresses that tension will tell us a lot about PolitiFact.
I share Cannon's assessment.  It is extraordinarily unlikely that PolitiFact intends to do its fact checking any way other than impartially.  But on the other hand it's hard to reconcile that premise with some of the things PolitiFact puts to print and with some of the errors PolitiFact refuses to acknowledge.

I predict that Cannon will not end up lifting his boycott.  PolitiFact is too invested in its model, given its relative success, to risk tampering with it.

But I'd love to be proved wrong.  Just like Cannon wouldn't mind lifting his boycott under the right conditions.

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