This is actually the third in our series on PolitiFact's debate-night blogging. We broke with the tradition of mentioning that in the title to bring attention to PolitiFact's fundamental error in the case we will examine.
During the third debate, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, used undocumented workers to construct the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Let's let PolitiFact's Linda Qiu tell it:
Clinton: "He used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower."According to Qiu and PolitiFact, demolishing a building is constructing a building. Or at least not different enough to make a difference in the rating. We assume that if Clinton had said Trump used undocumented workers to demolish the building that once stood where Trump Tower now stands that the claim could rate no higher than "True" on PolitiFact's "Truth-O-Meter." One version of the claim is no more accurate than the other by "Truth-O-Meter" standards.
This is True. Between 1979 and 1980, Trump hired a contractor to demolish a Manhattan building to make way for the eventual Trump Tower. That contractor in turn hired local union workers as well as 200 undocumented Polish workers to meet the tight deadlines.
We can't pass up the opportunity to remind our readers that PolitiFact prides itself on paying careful attention to the way politicians use words:
Words matter – We pay close attention to the specific wording of a claim. Is it a precise statement? Does it contain mitigating words or phrases?That's a joke, right?
Contrary to PolitiFact, "demolition" and "construction" do not carry the same meaning. The construction of a new building will typically not start until after the complete demolition of the building occupying the site of the proposed new construction. If undocumented workers demolished the building the Trump Tower replaced, then they finished their work before construction of the Trump Tower began. If they finished their work before construction began, then it is misleading at best to say they helped construct the Trump Tower.
How can a fact checker botch something that obvious?