Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PolitiFact supports dishonest Democratic Party "war on women" meme

There's plenty wrong with PolitiFact's Oct. 28 fact check of a Facebook meme, but we'll focus this time only on PolitiFact's implicit support of Democrats' baseless "war on women" political attack strategy regarding equal pay for equal work.

The meme graphic looks like this:

The question at the end, "Share if you miss the good old days!" implies a contrast between today's Republican Party platform and the platform in 1956. For us, the relevant point is No. 7, "Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex." Democrats have made the supposed Republican "war on women" a main point of their campaigns, partly by criticizing Republican opposition of the Democrats' proposed "Paycheck Fairness Act," which places new burdens on businesses defending against pay discrimination lawsuits. Equal pay for equal work, of course, already stands as the law of the land.

PolitiFact, on its main page of fact checks, elevates the fake contrast on the equal pay issue to first place:

Image from PolitiFact.com, appropriated under Fair Use.

"What a difference 58 years makes."

Back in '56, Republicans supported equal pay for equal work. But today, PolitiFact implies, Republicans no longer support equal work for equal pay.

It's horrible and biased reporting that has no place in a fact check.

Are things better in the text of the story? Not so much (emphasis in the original):
The 2012 platform doesn’t mention two of the meme’s seven items from 1956 -- unemployment benefits and equal pay for women.

The bottom line, then, is that on most of these issues, the GOP moved to the right between 1956 and 2012, though the degree of that shift has varied somewhat issue by issue.
PolitiFact finds no evidence of a shift on equal pay other than the issue's absence in the 2014 GOP platform. But that only makes sense given that federal equal pay laws went on the books in the 1960s. So there's no real evidence of any shift other than a fallacious appeal to silence, yet we have "equal pay" as PolitiFact's lead example of the GOP's supposed move to the right.

The issue also gets top billing in PolitiFact's concluding paragraphs (bold emphasis added):
The meme says the 1956 Republican Party platform supported equal pay, the minimum wage, asylum for refugees, protections for unions and more.

That’s generally correct. However, it’s worth noting that other elements of the 1956 platform were considered conservative for that era. Also, some of the issues have changed considerably between 1956 and 2012, such as the shift from focusing on post-war refugees to focusing on illegal immigration.
There's really no need to mention anything in the fact check about federal equal pay legislation passing in the 1960s, right?

This type of journalism is exactly what one would predict if liberal bias affected the work of left-leaning journalists. This fact check serves as an embarrassment to the practice of journalism.

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