Wednesday, January 6, 2016

PolitiFact dances the "can"-"can" on Obama's gun speech

PolitiFact's recent fact check of a statement from President Obama's January 5, 2015 gun control speech ought to give us a week's worth of PolitiFact Bias material.

PolitiFact looked at the president's claim that violent felons can buy guns through the Internet without a background check, ruling it "Mostly True."

We'll kick things off with perhaps the most obvious error:
Some readers seemed to think Obama was suggesting such transactions were legal. We don’t see that in Obama’s comments. (The grammarians at PolitiFact would note that Obama said "can," not "may.") To be clear, such a transaction would be illegal. What Obama said is that such transactions are possible.
We're champions of charitable interpretation, but this one doesn't fly. Why not? Because it leaves no reason for Mr. Obama to single out the Internet. If the issue is simply whether it's possible to buy guns illegally--yes it's possible over the Internet, in person or in any imaginable scenario. The interpretation PolitiFact chose is effectively meaningless. Is Obama going to pass an executive order that criminals cannot potentially disobey? No. That's ridiculous. No matter what Obama orders, criminals "can" make gun purchases bypassing the order under PolitiFact's interpretation.

Violent criminals and others can even buy guns across state lines though PolitiFact explicitly says they cannot. That's the type of absurdity to which PolitiFact's wordplay leads.

It's a little early in the year for a worst fact check of 2016, but we've got an early contender with this one.

It's very likely we'll have more to say about this one.

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