Thursday, February 1, 2018

Imperious PolitiFact

PolitiFact decides who built what, and it's ridiculous

Back in 2016 we reviewed the "True" claim PolitiFact awarded First Lady Michelle Obama for her claim the White House was built by slaves.

Slaves definitely helped with the labor of constructing the White House, but to an unknown degree. Regardless of that, PolitiFact awarded Obama a "True" rating on its subjective "Truth-O-Meter."

We thought PolitiFact went too easy on the claim, given that one could use the same standard to claim it "True" that European immigrants built the White House. Including a word like "helped" allows either claim to rise to credibility.

Fast forward to 2018 and the State of the Union Address response from U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.).

Kennedy said immigrants built Fall River, Massachusetts.

Breitbart, a right-leaning news outlet, judged Kennedy's statement "Mostly False," reasoning that the establishment of Fall River by native-born descendants of English settlers made it reasonable to say the city was built, at least in part, by those native-born people. Breitbart added that the native-born population has always outnumbered immigrants in the county that contains Fall River.

PolitiFact apparently doesn't care for sharing credit. If one group helped build something then that group gets credit and other groups that helped do not get credit.

PolitiFact rated Breitbart's claim "False." Yes, that implies that immigrants who helped "build" Fall River by coming to work at factories established by the native residents were the ones who exclusively built Fall River.

Call us radical right-wingers if you like, but we think if the facts show that credit for building something should be shared, then a fact checker should acknowledge shared credit in its ratings.

Breitbart's "Mostly False" rating hints at an ability to make that type of acknowledgement.

PolitiFact's "True" and "False" ratings make it look more partisan than Breitbart.

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