Sunday, December 25, 2011

Slate: "PolitiFact Weirdly Unable to Discuss Facts"

PolitiFact's recent spat with its liberal readership base has led to the publication of quite a few stories that echo criticisms recurrent in the posts we publish and link at PolitiFact Bias.

Slate's Dave Weigel, famously/formerly of the Journolist, has another such:
After this week, plenty of pundits are well and done with the national version of PolitiFact. The local versions? They're great. I was actually pretty fond of how one of them debunked an ad that misued [sic] one of my quotes, attributing it to a candidate, in 2010. Alas, PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair has committed the main site to a factually dubious "Lie of the Year" claim. PolitiFact claims that it's a "lie" to say that the Path to Prosperity ends Medicare. ActualFacts tell us that this is not a lie.

Adair responds to the critics in the worst possible way.
At a Republican campaign rally a few years ago, I asked one of the attendees how he got his news.

"I listen to Rush and read NewsMax," he said. "And to make sure I'm getting a balanced view, I watch Fox."
We're starting with an anoymous [sic] quote from a straw man that Adair met once?
Weigel continues to expand on Adair's defense, noting that it does nothing to address substantive criticisms.

Adair's response matches the customary pattern at PolitiFact, with the possible exception of the explanation PolitiFact offered after one of its criticisms of Rachel Maddow likewise offended liberal sensibilities.  The sad thing is that it took so long for so many liberals to see it.  Apparently it's easy to overlook the problem so long as conservatives have to deal with the bulk of the harm.

Though we hardly agree with Weigel about the quality of PolitiFact's state franchises (the jury's still out on most of them), his main point is well taken and the post is worth reading.

PolitiFact would gain credibility if it answered substantive criticisms with well-reasoned rebuttals. 

Claiming the critics suffer from some type of echo-chamber syndrome that prevents them from understanding PolitiFact's greatness is not a well reasoned rebuttal.  Rather, it is an ad hominem fallacy.  Readers are not well served with that type of response.

Jeff adds: Weigel continues with a curious new pattern we've noticed with liberal writers describing PolitiFact. What used to be a ubiquitary reference to PolitiFact's Pulitzer (which served to inform the reader of their unquestionable credibility and authority) is no longer worth the extra space to mention. 

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