Saturday, November 9, 2013

Letters to PolitiFact: "Losing Credibility"

Alert reader Michael Schmidt shared this letter he wrote to PolitiFacter Louis Jacobson. Mr. Schmidt raises some excellent points and makes a good comparison. We appreciate him granting us permission to post it so you can read it as well. The following is unedited with the exception of formatting:
Your continued statements regarding the following being "half true" impacts your credibility since you treat two individuals in nearly identical situations differently. Here is the statement on Obama:
After the Supreme Court upheld the health care bill he’d signed into law, President Barack Obama applauded the decision in a speech at the White House. In that speech, Obama responded to critics, including Mitt Romney, who say the law could force many Americans off their health care plans.

"If you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance," Obama said. "This law will only make it more secure and more affordable."
The next statement is regarding Valerie Jarrett:
But critics of the law have been on the attack about what they call Obama’s broken promise. Defending the law, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett sent out this message via Twitter on Oct. 28, 2013:

"FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans."
Both instances are in response to defending Obamacare. One uses "nothing" while the other states "if you are one of". Your ruling points out that "nothing" is an extreme claim. Obamacare effectively stated "all" of the 250 million people will get to keep their health insurance which appears to be extreme also.

In defense of your ruling for Obama's statement and partly as a critique, you state that Obama "suggests that keeping the insurance you like is guaranteed."  In the statement I read, the statement was explicitly stated versus implied. To soften the statement to "suggests" is a misrepresentation.

I enjoyed the PolitiFact site for a while and I go back from time to time but its apparent bias to a Democratic president and the criticisms I have seen regarding the disparity in rulings between Democrats and Republicans is convincing me that the site is biased and therefore guilty of the same behavior as both politicians and mainstream media outlets (on either side of the political spectrum).


Michael Schmidt
Mr. Schmidt repeats a common theme we've talked about here, and that is PolitiFact's inconsistency. Obama makes a definitive statement, and PolitiFact mitigates it by painting it as merely a vague implication. Jarrett does the same but fails to earn PolitiFact's protective nuance allowance. It's true that both Obama and Jarrett are Democrats, but we've pointed out before that inept ratings toward liberals can be indicative of just how incompetent and arbitrary PolitiFact's system is. It's also worth noting that Jarrett is hardly the figurehead of liberalism that Obama is, and throwing her under the bus is a small price to pay for PolitiFact's appearance of neutrality.

Ultimately, PolitiFact's inconsistency overwhelmingly falls against one side of the political aisle, but there's so much inconsistency there's certain to be liberals hit by friendly fire. PolitiFact's ratings are arbitrary, and should be treated as the commentary pieces they are.

Many thanks to Mr. Schmidt for allowing us to share his letter. Of course, if Mr. Jacobson would like to respond to Schmidt's letter we're happy to publish it here with his permission.

Edit 11/10/13 2104PST:  Added links to two PolitiFact articles in both instances of the word "statement" in Mr. Schmidt's letter. The links did not appear in the original letter sent to us, but it's our policy to link to the PolitiFact articles we are critiquing. - Jeff

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