Monday, February 12, 2018

Guest columnist (Democrat) critiques PolitiFact

We covered PolitiFact's announcement it had hired Democratic and Republican "reader advocates" to help establish its trustworthiness. And we covered how PolitiFact unpublished that announcement when its choice of Alan Grayson, former Democratic congressman from Florida, blew up in its face.

Another announcement followed on Feb. 9, 2018, naming Republican David Jolly and Democrat Jason Altmire as "guest columnists."

The guest columns appear on PolitiFact's blog page, "Inside the Meters," which should prove sufficient to bury the columns outside the notice of anybody who doesn't either get Twitter or email alerts directly from PolitiFact.

Altmire was the first to have a critique published.

We think it's pointless crap.

Altmire says PolitiFact "generously" rated a Republican "Half True." Then later in the column says the "Half True" rating is the correct rating.

No, seriously. That's what Altmire does.

In the lead paragraph, Altimire says PolitiFact gave a "generous" Half True rating (bold emphasis added):
PolitiFact generously rates Congressman Mullin’s Facebook post "Half True." He got the numbers right, but failed to inform readers of the context. In evaluating claims involving the selective use of statistics, PolitiFact must consider whether the omission was accidental or meant to deceive. Mullin’s omission appears to have been purposeful, because he knows an evaluation of Obama’s entire economic record would present a completely different picture than the one the congressman was trying to paint. Is "Half True" an accurate rating in this case?
 And in his concluding paragraph, Altmire says PolitiFact got the rating right (bold emphasis added):
PolitiFact gave the correct rating; Mullin’s post was indeed "Half True." But from now on, when readers consider a statement that has been rated "Half True" based upon the misuse of statistics, I hope they will remember the less-than-complimentary implication of that rating.
("from now on"?????)

Altmire's point, cleverly disguised in the midst of his self-contradiction, was that Congressman Mullin was lying, and Altmire wishes PolitiFact had been more clear about it.

As critiques go, that's plenty lame. Media Matters could have come up with that one with no problem.

If these columnists don't pick up their game immediately, PolitiFact ought to waste no time at all pulling the plug on this experiment.

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