Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" selection for 2012

PolitiFact has selected its "Lie of the Year" for 2012.  It's the claim from the Mitt Romney campaign that the administration sold Chrysler to the Italians, Fiat, and that Chrysler would build Jeeps in China.

PolitiFact's Angie Drobnic Holan opens the announcement with a falsehood:
It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign -- that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China. It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep's parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.
Holan's delivery is sneaky.  The news story about opening a Jeep plant was misconstrued early on.  But by the time the story appeared in the Romney campaign ad, the facts were correct.  PolitiFact today calls that "a grain of truth."  We covered the issue here by highlighting a post from anonymous blogger "counterirritant," and I did an item over at my fact check site as well.

Here's the bottom line:  Fiat plans to start building Jeeps in China.  It doesn't mean Jeep production will cease in the United States, but the Romney ad doesn't claim otherwise.  It does mean that the Chinese will assemble more than 25,000 Jeep vehicles per year (if sales trends do not shockingly reverse) that are currently shipped fully assembled overseas.  That will affect American jobs.

These criticisms of the PolitiFact fact check are not new.  They've appeared across the media from Forbes to the National Legal and Policy Center and many places in between.

How does PolitiFact respond to the criticism?  It ignores it and continues to publish stories that mislead about the Romney ad.

Ironic, isn't it?

Correction 12/13/2012:  Omitted part of the name of the National Legal and Policy Center, omitting the "Legal."  Apologies to the National Legal and Policy Center for the error.

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