Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hoystory: "How About 'True?'"

Matthew Hoy of Hoystory points out PolitiFact's flawed rating of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). PolitiFact gave West a "Mostly True" for his statement that the Libyan operations cost $115 million in the first 36 hours. What's so wrong with a Mostly True? As Hoy explains, West was absolutely correct. Even PolitiFact acknowledges this.

But not content with simply "sorting out the truth" of West's statement, PolitiFact went fishing for the elusive red herring. Their interview with Zack Cooper of the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments hauled in the catch:
"The cost of the first day or first couple of days was largely Tomahawk missiles and maybe some other munitions, but for the most part that’s why it was so expensive," Cooper said. "The cost in the long term of a no-fly zone is typically fuel and operational costs so the two are very different. The upfront cost of imposing a no-fly zone are typically substantially higher than the week-to-week cost of flying planes above Libyan territory."
"So What?" asks Hoy. PolitiFact has taken an irrelevant point about the dynamic nature of military action and labels West less than totally honest. Because the initial 36 hours had higher costs than on-going operations, according to PolitiFact, West's statement wasn't True.

Says Hoy:
West’s point is that the Libyan intervention has not insubstantial costs. He uses an easy-to-comprehend and admittedly accurate line item to illustrate those costs. The fact that the amount of money being spent changes from hour to hour is irrelevant.

Is giving a Republican a simple “True” so hard?
As the anecdotes continue to mount, the answer appears to be "yes".

Read Hoy's entire post here. And see another review of Hoystory here.

Bryan adds:

It is tough to see how West failed to earn a "True" rating, though West was apparently slightly off regarding the number of Tomahawk missiles fired by the US.  As PolitiFact put it in the conclusion:
On Fox News West said that the United States launched about $115 million worth of missiles within the first day or day and a half in Libya. That's about $6 million less than the figure we received from the Navy. And West didn't note that some of the Tomahawks were fired by U.S. allies. But still, close enough. But there are a couple of caveats -- namely, that the U.S. already had those missiles in stock, so it doesn't represent new spending. And initial costs in a military intervention are always higher, experts told us. We rate this claim Mostly True.
It seems totally irrelevant that the U.S. had the missiles in stock already.  If they're not replaced with new ones then the number we have is decreased by the operation in Libya.  As for the "initial costs are always higher" caveat, West did nothing at all to suggest that the initial costs were representative of day-to-day operations.

Props to Matthew Hoy.

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