Thursday, April 3, 2014

PolitiFact rates two false statements "Mostly True" (Updated)

We're still puzzling over this one, thinking perhaps that a double negative equals a positive, or something like that.

Yesterday PolitiFact published a fact check of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid said billionaires Charles and David Koch are the richest family in the world.  PolitiFact checked the statement and found that the Koch brothers are a relatively distant second to the Walton family (Walmart).

Reid said that the Koch brothers rank fifth individually among the richest billionaires.  PolitiFact checked the statement and found the Koch brothers are tied for sixth.

So Reid was pretty close on both statements but wrong on both statements.  So PolitiFact rated Reid "Mostly True" on the two false statements:
Reid said the Koch brothers are "the richest people in the world. Individually they're only fifth. Put them together they're the richest in the world." If you look at families -- which is what Reid is essentially doing -- then Charles and David Koch rank second internationally to six members of the Walton family, at least according to Forbes. That’s still pretty close to the top of the list. We rate his statement Mostly True.
Just a reminder:  This was published on April 2, not April 1 (April Fool's Day).

Here's another reminder.  PolitiFact's definition of "Mostly True":
MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
The trick, in this case, is that the clarification or additional information means the statement isn't accurate.  This is just another rating based on whim.  It can't meet the definition of "Mostly True."

Coincidentally, the beneficiary of this blinkered ruling is a Democrat.  This is the wonderful world of PolitiFact fact checking.

Update, April 3, 2014

Perhaps Reid's rating was as high as it was because PolitiFact literally paid no attention to its own fact check.  We just noticed a discrepancy between the concluding paragraph and the body of the fact check.  In the conclusion, PolitiFact says "Individually they're only fifth."  In the body, PolitiFact checks with Forbes and concludes "Currently, Charles and David Koch, when measured as individuals, are tied for sixth place on the international list, with $40.7 billion each."

Fifth.  Sixth.  What's the difference, right?

Update April 4, 2014Jeff correctly points out an obvious point I somehow missed in my update comment:  PolitiFact was quoting Reid in the summary paragraph.  That erases what I took as a discrepancy.

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