We've previously emphasized the relevance of Groseclose's book "Left Turn" to our ongoing critique of PolitiFact's bias problem.
AllSides appears to represent an entirely new attempt to address the problem of getting quality information to voters in a constitutional republic. We're not big fans of crowdsourcing, but it seems like a potentially reasonable approach to grading sources for their degree of bias.
And speaking of the degree of bias, the quotation that largely accounts for our interest in the AllSides project (bold emphasis added):
During the Democratic National Convention (DNC), Bill Clinton asserted that over the last 52 years, America had experienced more job growth under past Democratic presidents (42 million) than under Republican presidents (24 million).PolitiFact's "Left" rating for bias especially interested me because I've often wondered how PolitiFact would stack up against other fact checkers in terms of sustaining reader trust.
In covering this assertion, both PolitiFact and The Washington Post's Fact Checker determined that Bill Clinton's job numbers were essentially correct. PolitiFact (AllSides Bias Rating "Left") gave it a "True" rating and went on to make the case that the numbers were even stronger than they appear.
Unless AllSides confused PolitiFact with Politico (which looks somewhat likely), it looks like PolitiFact wears a broad reputation for liberal bias.
We'll look forward to more from AllSides.
Consider me one of the skeptics. Crowdsourcing has undeniable value. Whether it's Yelp reviews or an Ebay member's rating, the opinions of large amounts of random people can mean something. But the authority of the masses doesn't hold the same weight with regard to objective reality. An overwhelming number of otherwise rational people vouched for the Macarena's awesomeness. Large groups of people can be wrong. Reality is unencumbered by the burdens of popularity. The fact that most people think PolitiFact is biased to the left doesn't make it so. That finding is better explored through critical study with verifiable and reproducible evidence.
I took AllSides' 'test' and it's no surprise I ended up on the 'Right' side of their scale. The whole process seemed a bit push-poll-ey to me. If someone considers flag burning immoral, but supports flag burning as a constitutional right, which box do they choose on AllSides test? Do you feel extremely strong that abortion is a right [left box] while rejecting the notion that it's the government's responsibility to pay for it [right box]?
Self-assessment is inherently flawed. And it's even less reliable when dealing with convoluted subjects like political philosophy and moral convictions.
Regardless, I say kudos to AllSides for assembling a respectable team of experts. There's no doubt about their sincerity and they deserve the benefit of the doubt. I commend them on their sincere efforts and it's possible they will provide interested readers with valuable, if only anecdotal, information as their project progresses.
I'm not convinced, but I'm looking forward to them proving me wrong. At the very least they deserve credit for producing a much more honest and transparent project than PolitiFact ever has.
[Note: A draft version of this Jeff adds portion was inadvertently published simultaneously with the original post and then immediately removed.]