Saturday, June 14, 2014

PolitiFact in Obama's pocket

Behold as President Obama works PolitiFact like a marionette (bold emphasis added):
Hosting members of the 2013 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx in the White House’s East Room, Obama told the crowd that the last time the team came to the White House -- in 2012, after the Lynx’s first championship season -- he predicted that they would be back before he left office.

"I just want to mention that I was right," Obama joked. "You can fact check that, PolitiFact."
PolitiFact received its orders and acted.  It fact checked Obama's statement, at least after a fashion.

PolitiFact produced a little self-promoting story.  It didn't do a full-fledged fact check of the president, though the results show Obama successfully manipulated the fact checkers.

Obama wouldn't invite a fact check of himself if there was any chance he was wrong, is there?

That seems like PolitiFact's core assumption.  Read on (bold emphasis added):
We checked and, well -- we’ll give credit where credit’s due.

On Sept. 18, 2012, the Lynx visited the White House and Obama said this:

"They’ve picked up right where they left off –- on top of the Western Conference by a wide margin. Coach (Cheryl Reeve) just told me that they’ve now secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. With three games to go, best record in the league. They’re leading the league in points, rebounds, assists. So you get the idea -- they’re pretty good. And I have a feeling that we might end up seeing them back here before too long."
PolitiFact was right that Obama said he predicted the Lynx would be back before he left office (bold emphasis added):
Now, in 2012, when the Lynx came here after their first title, I said I had a feeling I might see them again before I left office.  (Laughter.)  I just want to mention that I was right.  And so you can fact-check that, PolitiFact.  I got that one right.
In 2012, Obama didn't say anything about the Lynx returning before he left office.  His statement was far more vague.  He said he had a feeling the team would return to the White House "before too long."  Given the context, with Obama lauding the team's accomplishments during the 2012 WNBA season, Obama most likely meant that the Lynx would win the WNBA championship that year.  The Lynx lost that year, as PolitiFact noted, to the Indiana Fever.

Obama used one of the time-honored techniques of fortune-telling charlatans:  Keep your predictions vague.

PolitiFact bought it (bold emphasis added).
As it happened, the Lynx fell to the Indiana Fever in the 2012 finals (and the Fever received a White House invite). But the Lynx won a second title in 2013, ultimately affirming Obama’s prediction.

So, this is a win-win. Obama gets to glow in his factual accuracy, and we get to confirm that he knows our name.
What an embarrassment.  Was Obama joking?  Probably.  We'd give him the benefit of the doubt.  Regardless of whether he was joking, PolitiFact's response is an embarrassment.

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