Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's a fact! It's from a Republican! It's "Pants on Fire"!

Computer access problems stopped us from joining the vanguard in trashing  PolitiFact's recent "Pants on Fire" rating given to Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio for saying Reagan's strength compared to Carter's weakness led to the release of hostages on the day Reagan was inaugurated in early 1981.


Fortunately, Power Line and Red State admirably filled the breach.

Power Line faults PolitiFact for citing the controversial Gary Sick as an expert historical source, then skewers PolitiFact for simply ignoring the evidence supporting Rubio:
Anyway, Politifact continues:
Instead, the Iranians had tired of holding the hostages, and that the administration of Jimmy Carter did the legwork to get the hostages released.
They got tired of it, you see. Riiiight. Okay, if you’re done being convulsed with laughter on the floor, let’s recall what the Washington Post editorial page (!!) had to say about the matter on January 21, 1981:
“Who doubts that among Iran’s reasons for coming to terms now was a desire to beat [Reagan] to town?”
And who doubts that Politifact and other “fact checkers” are too clueless to grasp Rubio’s argument that your reputation in the world counts for something—especially with your enemies.
Red State noted:
The release did coincide with Reagan’s inauguration. Any critique of Rubio’s statement must include an very solid bit of proof that the two events were disconnected. As a matter of fact, the negotiations that led to the release of the hostages were not even signed until January 19, 1981. If as Gary Sick states, it was that the Iranians were afraid of having to start all over again with Reagan then why was the release not effected earlier. While the Reagan administration, rightfully, had nothing to do with the negotiations it is utter lunacy to assert that Reagan’s election did not have a demonstrable effect.
Power Line and Red State do a nice job in pointing out the holes in PolitiFact's version of the events surrounding the hostage crisis. But we would add to their criticisms the point that PolitiFact also pulled its all-too-typical creative straw man technique on Rubio.

Where Rubio staked out the very defensible position that Iran cut its deal with the president from which it thought it would get the better deal, PolitiFact implies Rubio claimed that Reagan's inauguration caused the release of the hostages:
We flagged Rubio’s comment as a misleading framing of history. Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 may have coincided with the release of the hostages, but historians say it did not cause it.
Is that how PolitiFact framed the issue when it contacted its select panel of experts?

Regardless, this looks like a case of PolitiFact non-transparently interviewing a half-dozen experts and then declaring an expert consensus where no such consensus exists in reality.

Via the United States Institute for Peace (bold emphasis added):
Ronald Reagan was sworn into office on January 20, 1981, just as Iran released 52 Americans held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days. The timing was deliberate. The young revolutionary regime did not want the hostages freed until after Jimmy Carter, who had supported the shah and allowed him into the United States, left office. At the same time, Tehran wanted to clear the slate in the face of a new Republican administration that had vowed to take a tougher stand on terrorism and hostage-taking.
 So totally nothing to do with Reagan.


Here's predicting PolitiFact will do what it usually does when confronted with a strong critique from the right: Nothing.


  1. I am sure there are some who still read Politfact along with their morning cup of KoolAid, but it is written by the same batch of Democrats who have made the Washington Post such a money loser that it was sold to a billionaire Democrat for less than the cost of his mansions.

    1. If anyone holds PolitiFact in high regard that's one too many in our opinion, Jack! :-)

      We intend to help keep whittling that number down by providing evidence that's hard for PolitiFact's supporters to ignore.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


Thanks to commenters who refuse to honor various requests from the blog administrators, all comments are now moderated. Pseudonymous commenters who do not choose distinctive pseudonyms will not be published, period. No "Anonymous." No "Unknown." Etc.