Wednesday, February 8, 2017

PolitiFact misleads its "Truth Squad"

PolitiFact is in the midst of conducting a successful campaign for raising financial support from its readers.

We found it interesting and ironic that PolitiFact is using a misleading appeal toward that end:
As readers have cheered us on, plenty of politicians have actively rooted against us. At the 2012 Republican National Convention, journalists challenged Mitt Romney’s campaign team about an ad that falsely claimed Barack Obama was ending work requirements for welfare. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse responded by saying, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."
Problem one: So far as we can tell, the fact checkers never responded to vigorous criticisms of their ruling on President Barack Obama's welfare work requirement tweak. That's despite basing the ruling essentially on Obama administration claims about what it was trying to accomplish with its Welfare requirement waiver provision.

Problem two: PolitiFact is taking the statement from Neil Newhouse out of context. And all the mainstream (left-leaning) fact checkers seem to enjoy doing that to enhance the popular view of their work.

I exposed that deception with an article at Zebra Fact Check:
What was Newhouse saying? We think the context makes clear Newhouse was not expressing a disdain for facts but instead expressing his distrust of fact checkers. The ABC News report makes that clear with its paraphrase of Newhouse: “Newhouse suggested the problem was with the fact-checkers, not the facts themselves.”

We’ll see that all three of the major fact checkers ignored the meaning ABC News identified for Newhouse’s statement and replaced it with a meaning that better served their purposes.
The fact checkers, including PolitiFact, misleadingly use Newhouse's statement as evidence campaigns do not care about the truth, and that, in turn, helps justify their own existence. And apparently the fact checkers themselves are perfectly willing to twist the truth to achieve that noble (selfish) end.

PolitiFact's "Truth Squad" is likely to end up as a left-leaning mob interested primarily in supporting journalism that attacks Republicans, conservatives and President Trump in particular.

Edit: A draft version of a Jeff Adds section was published today in error. We have since removed the section. Prior to removal we saved a version of this page that included the section. That can be found at Internet Archive
-Jeff 1619PST 2/10/2017

Update Aug. 22, 2018: Added the URL for the PolitiFact article encouraging readers to join its "Truth Squad." Also removed a redundant URL from the last paragraph.

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