Wednesday, July 13, 2016

PolitiFact Illinois: a different animal?

Today PolitiFact announced a new state affiliate, PolitiFact Illinois. This expansion move breaks new ground, for PolitiFact Illinois represents a partnership with a not-for-profit organization, "Reboot Illinois."

PolitiFact has in the past affiliated with newspapers, radio stations, and university journalism programs. It also lists a partnership with NBC.

Here at PolitiFact Bias, we could hardly be more aware that the "nonpartisan" label means virtually nothing by itself. PolitiFact itself serves as ample proof of that. Naturally, we were curious about Reboot Illinois as a result.

Reboot Illinois lists two main sources of funding, both consisting of individuals:
Reboot Illinois is funded by Chicago hedge fund manager Anne Dias Griffin and industrialists Lester and Jim Crown.
Griffin's Federal Elections Commission history shows plenty of political giving to both Democrats and Republicans.

Lester Crown's FEC history shows him giving to Democrats and Republicans, with most of the support going to Democrats.

Jim Crown's extensive political giving overwhelmingly went to Democrats.

The funding, then, is superficially bipartisan. But even if the funding were all from George Soros or Charles Koch, it would not necessarily mean Reboot Illinois leans one way or the other. Reboot Illinois determines that by the way it acts. We'll be interested to see if PolitiFact Illinois is a different sort of animal from the existing PolitiFact franchises.


With some difficulty, I separated my criticism of PolitiFact Illinois' self-announcement from the rest of the post.

The announcement is filled with dubious claims well befitting the announcement of a new PolitiFact franchise. I'll limit myself to one powerful example from the opening paragraph (bold emphasis added):
Illinois never has been more polarized. Our nation never more divided.
As badly as the United States was divided by the Civil War, today it is more divided still.

Thanks, PolitiFact Illinois. We look forward to more.

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