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 PolitiFact.com, 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 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.
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.