Alternate title: Is PolitiFact California stupid IIVery shortly after publishing "Is PolitiFact California stupid: Mike Pence and the mythical denial of evolution," we ran across another nonsensical fact-checking attempt from PolitiFact California. I gave it fact check treatment at Zebra Fact Check.
This time PolitiFact California looked at a statement from California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom said Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence wanted to divert tax money to conversion therapy. PolitiFact said the claim was "True."
But where was the evidence? PolitiFact tried to rely on this part of Pence's campaign website from his 2000 run for the House of Representatives:
• Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.Is the problem obvious? It should be:
PolitiFact California performed this part of the fact check adequately, establishing a definition early in its fact check:It's worth noting that the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney saw the problem before PolitiFact California published its fact check. Not that PolitiFact California would notice.
Conversion therapy is a controversial practice that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight.PolitiFact’s definition clarifies the key issue for this fact check: If “conversion therapy” seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation, does it count as “conversion therapy” to seek to change a person’s sexual behavior?
In context, Pence was talking about government money distributed to organizations providing care for HIV+ persons. Pence's line about directing resources to organizations helping people who want to change their sexual behavior likely serves as a counterpoint to his preceding line: Pence was making a contrast to organizations that encourage risky sexual behavior.
PolitiFact left out the context of the Ryan White Care Act.
And PolitiFact took "sexual behavior" to mean "sexual orientation" without explanation.
It's another fact-checking train-wreck for PolitiFact California. Visit Zebra Fact Check for more details.