Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Debra J. Saunders: "PolitiFact or PolitiFable?"

The San Francisco Chonicle's conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders published a nice blasting of PolitiFact on May 17, 2016.

In "PolitiFact or PolitiFable?" Saunders notes that PolitiFact California gave Pat Buchanan a "Mostly False" rating for claiming half of California households, when in the home, speak a language other than English.

PolitiFact’s Chris Nelson did some checking and found out that — drum roll — what Buchanan said was pretty accurate. According to the U.S. Census 44 percent of Californians spoke a language other than English at home in 2014. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, crunched the data and concluded 48 percent of Cali households spoke a language other than English at home.

So how did the statement get a “Mostly False” rating? While Nelson noted Buchanan was right on the numbers, he nonetheless concluded Buchanan “wrongly implies that half the state does not speak English.” That is so bogus.
We think Saunders makes a great point. It's not easy to see any such implication from Buchanan.

PolitiFact California:
We checked the second part of Buchanan’s statement, about the percentage of Californians who speak a foreign language at home.

It’s a claim that was close to correct on the numbers, but wrongly implies that half the state does not speak English.
PolitiFact California reasons speciously. If half of Californians did not speak English then it would not matter whether they are at home when they speak a language other than English. If people do not speak English then they do not speak English, regardless of location.

We give the last word to Saunders:
Note to PolitiFact: When you have to make up something you think someone implied, then you should get your facts straight.

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