Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nothing To See Here: Harry Reid's "All of them are untrue"

Via's Guy Benson, we have Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declaring that all Obamacare horror stories are untrue:

We don't want PolitiFact looking at this in the name of "false equivalency," do we?

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PolitiFact's PolitiMath, and President Obama

We try to keep tabs on the way PolitiFact does math.  In particular, we're interested in how the degree of error affects PolitiFact's trademarked "Truth-O-Meter" ratings.  We're especially on the lookout for cases where the degree of error appears to determine the rating.  These cases contribute to our "PolitiMath" theorems.

This week PolitiFact gave us a terrific example of PolitiMath.
Obama said, "We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion."

...The actual number is estimated to be between one-seventh and two-fifths of what Obama said it was. We rate the claim False.
Obama's 7 million figure exaggerated the high-end accepted estimate of 1.8 million by 288 percent. PolitiFact calls that "False." Not ridiculously false ("Pants on Fire"), but simply false.

File that one away for future, and past, reference.

Update Feb. 26, 2014: Eliminated some extraneous html coding that ended up visible in the text, and also altered the quotation of PolitiFact to make clear it draws from two different paragraphs.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ho hum: PolitiFact flubs another gender wage gap disparity rating

It's been a blast for us here at PolitiFact Bias covering PolitiFact's inconsistency on the gender wage disparity.

June 22, 2012:  At my old blog "Sublime Bloviations" I tag PolitiFact National for going soft on President Obama.  PolitiFact gave the president a "Mostly False" rating for saying women receive 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.  It's a flat misuse of the statistic.

May 8, 2013:  We look at all of the PolitiFact gender wage gap stories available through that time, finding them inconsistent with each other, to say the least.

Jan 30, 2014:  We updated the gender wage gap series after President Obama implied the existence of a 23-cent gender wage gap in his State of the Union speech.  Incredibly, PolitiFact rated Obama's dissembling "Mostly True."

Now PolitiFact Oregon adds probably the most spectacular flub so far:

Image capture from, Feb. 20, 2014

PolitiFact Oregon simply neglects to factor into its fact checking whether Brad Avakian's statistics measure differences in pay for doing the same job.  It's a hugely embarrassing oversight, and it's highly likely PolitiFact Oregon will have to issue a correction.

Whether or not PolitiFact Oregon corrects the mistake, it's an astonishing error to find in material that claims to check facts.  And runs its findings past a team of editors before telling the world what's true and what's not.

We think it's pretty clear that PolitiFact's National's preposterously favorable rating of Obama's version of the claim in his 2014 State of the Union speech contributed to this error by PolitiFact Oregon:
For starters, the commissioner loses points for cherry-picking the 79-cent figure. Other means of measuring pay gaps between men and women put it considerably less.

The same can be said of the "for doing the same job" piece. As PolitiFact has found previously, the existence of a pay gap doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the gap is caused by individual employer-level discrimination, as Avakian’s claim implies. Some of the gap is at least partially explained by the predominance of women in lower-paying fields, rather than women necessarily being paid less for the same job than men are.
The PolitiFact Oregon story has but one of PolitiFact's past gender wage gap ratings listed among its sources:  PolitiFact National's rating of Obama's State of the Union speech.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Nothing To See Here: Norman Ornstein and the magic of compound interest

I just ran across a post at Power Line Blog about Norman Ornstein's endorsement of giving government cash to babies.

Power Line's John Hinderaker wrote about the astonishingly errant math Ornstein used while endorsing the Kidsave program.  Here's how Ornstein describes it in his article at National Journal:
The first iteration of KidSave, in simple terms, was this: Each year, for every one of the 4 million newborns in America, the federal government would put $1,000 in a designated savings account. The payment would be financed by using 1 percent of annual payroll-tax revenues. Then, for the first five years of a child's life, the $500 child tax credit would be added to that account, with a subsidy for poor people who pay no income. The accounts would be administered the same way as the federal employees' Thrift Savings Plan, with three options—low-, medium-, and high-risk—using broad-based stock and bond funds. Under the initial KidSave proposal, the funds could not be withdrawn until age 65, when, through the miracle of compound interest, they would represent a hefty nest egg. At 5 percent annual growth, an individual would have almost $700,000.
Is it a typo?  The total should be closer to $70,000, as a host of people have pointed out.  If it's a typo, the National Journal continues to stand behind it through a lack of correction three (going on four) days after publication.

This is a job for PolitiFact!  Or this is a job for PunditFact!

Or is it?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"The Heart of PolitiFact"

We find it fundamentally dishonest the way PolitiFact treats its trademark "Truth-O-Meter" as though it's some sort of machine that objectively measures the truth content of political statements.

The opposite's true.

Have a look at PolitiFact's "About PolitiFact" page (bold emphasis added):
The heart of PolitiFact is the Truth-O-Meter, which we use to rate factual claims.

The Truth-O-Meter is based on the concept that – especially in politics - truth is not black and white.

PolitiFact writers and editors spend considerable time researching and deliberating on our rulings ...

We then decide which of our six rulings should apply.
There's no machinery, only the machinations of biased reporters and editors.  The "Truth-O-Meter" is just the vehicle for the label they put on their decision.  The eventual rulings are even worse than the "coin flip" described by John Kroll, mentioned in our previous post.  The "Truth-O-Meter" is akin to the "Wheel of Fortune," given the level of subjectivity inherent in the system.

The heart of PolitiFact?