Friday, June 3, 2016

Mark of the Least: PolitiFact Avoids Hillary's Most Damaging Lies

Pictures of last night ended up online, I'm screwed. OH WELL!
Yeah I think we broke the law, always say we're gonna stop...
This Friday night do it all again. 

This Tuesday, PolitiBlogger Lauren Carroll did me the favor of making my prediction come true, thus cementing my status as the world's least daring fortune teller.

Carroll's post helped PolitiFact readers sort out the truth of a mystery that CNN, Reuters, NBC, AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Politico had already confirmed and reported on extensively a week before PolitiFact even touched it. 

Carroll offered up this lame excuse:
We haven’t yet put the issue on the Truth-O-Meter because there were too many unknowns.
Carroll explains the IG report was the smoking gun they finally needed to put Hillary to the scientific rigors of the Truth-O-Meter.

Carroll failed in "sorting out the truth" of what she was sorting out the truth of.

Readers didn't benefit in any way by PolitiFact's delayed press time. Carroll's post didn't include any exclusive or developing details that weren't already reported on by much more popular journalism outlets the week before. Carroll only succeeded in regurgitating a widely known story, included a weak defense for ignoring it earlier, then slapped a gimmicky "Truth-O-Meter" graphic on it.

Carroll continued:
But the inspector general’s report has clarified some of those unknowns and demonstrated that Clinton’s exclusive use of personal email was, in fact, not allowed.
We've known for years Clinton's exclusive use of a personal email account violates State Department policy. Who does Carroll think she's fooling? Here's the source:
First of all, the State Department’s policy as of 2005 (Clinton joined in 2009) is that all day-to-day operations are to be conducted on the official State Department information channel. Clinton never once used this State Department email system.
The quotation comes from Carroll herself. As far back as March, 2013 it was reported that Clinton was exclusively using her personal email account for government business, contrary to State Department policy. PolitiFact is just figuring this out now? The IG report didn't confirm Clinton's email impermissibility so much as it reiterated it.

Carroll's excuse that there wasn't enough information doesn't pass the laugh test.

And what spared Clinton from the dreaded "Pants on Fire" rating? On Twitter, I asked both PolitiFact and Carroll herself what objective criteria they used to determine Clinton's claim was false, but not ridiculously false (That's the only difference between a False and Pants on Fire rating, as Bryan explains here.)

Neither responded so we're left to assume Clinton's repeated, years long, blatant lie wasn't too offensive to the political sensibilities of PolitiFact staff. It's false, they admit, but not ridiculous.

Finally, we have the issue of selection bias. It's arguable that of all the sordid details of Clinton's private email practices, her lie that it was "allowed" is arguably the least politically damaging to her. Breaking a few rules for convenience is hardly something most Americans would become outraged over, especially when so many are dealing with voluminous and complicated email work rules themselves. A partisan may even be able to paint Clinton in a sympathetic light if all she did was use the wrong email.

Rating Clinton's "allowed" lie is almost as helpful as that other time PolitiFact dipped a tepid toe into the Clinton email scandal. In that case they informed readers that Hillary Clinton was not under investigation. Instead, the FBI was investigating her email server, an inanimate object.

Why not check this Clinton whopper?
“There is no classified marked information on those emails, sent or received by me." 
No need for an IG report here. That claim was demonstrably false when she made the claim. (Nor has PolitiFact provided so much as an "In Context" article to explain it's irrelevant if Top Secret information was marked or not.)

Oddly enough PolitiFact editors don't see any news value in determining if Clinton put American lives at risk by failing to protect our most valuable secrets. That's why you won't see it rated on the Truth-O-Meter.

Besides, it seems that Carroll has stayed busy trying to sort out the truth of much more important things.

PolitiFact isn't holding anyone accountable. They're pushing narratives based on their own political inclinations. And politicians that lie will do it all again.

0638 PST 6/3/2016: Fixed various text formatting errors. Deleted duplicate final sentence in antepenultimate paragraph. -Jeff
0840 PST 6/4/2016 While fixing formatting errors the text "Oddly enough PolitiFact editors don't see any news value in determining if" was inadvertently deleted in antepenultimate paragraph. It has been restored. -Jeff  

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