We can depend on PolitiFact to perform lousy fact-checking on the gender wage gap.
PolitiFact veteran Louis Jacobson proved PolitiFact consistent ineptitude with an April 13, 2018 fact check of Sen. Tina Smith (D-Min.), Sen. Al Franken's replacement.
Sen. Smith claimed that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar for doing the same jobs as men. That's false, and PolitiFact rated it "Mostly False."
That 80-cents-on-the-dollar wage gap is calculated based on full-time work irrespective of the job type and irrespective of hours worked once above the full-time threshold. The figure represents the median, not the average.
But isn't "Mostly False" a Fair Rating for Smith?Good question! PolitiFact noted that the figure Smith was using did not take the type of job specifically into account. And PolitiFact pointed out that Smith made a common mistake. People often fail to mention that the raw wage gap figure doesn't take the type of job into account.
PolitiFact's Jacobson doesn't precisely spell out why PolitiFact finds a germ of truth in Smith's statement. Presumably PolitiFact's reasoning matches that of its earlier ratings where it noted that the wage gap statistic is accurate except for the part about it applying to equal work. So it's true except for the part that makes it false, therefore "Mostly False" instead of "False."
Looking at it objectively, however, it's just plain false that women earn 80 cents on the dollar for doing the same work. Researchers talk about an "unexplained gap" after taking various factors into account to explain the gap, and the ceiling for gender discrimination looks like it falls to around 5 percent to 7 percent.
Charitably using the 7 percent figure as the ceiling for gender-based wage discrimination, Smith exaggerated the gap by 186 percent. It's likely the exaggeration was far greater than that.
For comparison, when Bernie Sanders said 40 percent of U.S. gun sales occur without background checks, PolitiFact gave him a "False" rating for exaggerating the right figure by 90 percent.
The Ongoing Democratic Deception PolitiFact OverlooksIf a Democrat describes the 80 percent raw pay gap accurately, why not give it a "True" rating? Or at least "Mostly True"?
Democrats tend to trot out the raw gender pay gap statistic while proposing legislation that supposedly addresses gender discrimination. By repeatedly associating the raw wage gap with the issue of wage discrimination, Democrats send the implicit message that the raw wage gap describes gender discrimination. It uses the anchoring bias to mislead the audience about the size of the pay gap stemming from gender discrimination.
Democrats habitually use "Equal Pay Day," based on the raw wage gap, to argue for equal pay for equal work. But the raw wage gap doesn't take the type of job into account.
Trust PolitiFact not to notice the deception.
Fact checkers ought to assist in making Democrats clarify their position. Are Democrats in favor of equal pay regardless of the job or hours worked? Or do Democrats believe the demands for equal pay apply only to matters of gender discrimination?
If the latter, Democrats' continued use of the raw wage gap to peg the date of its "Equal Pay Day" counts as a blatant deception.
If the former, voters deserve to know what Democrats stand for.
It amused us that Jacobson directly referenced an earlier PolitiFact Florida botched treatment of the gender pay gap.
PolitiFact Florida couldn't figure out that claiming the gap occurs "simply because she isn't a man" is equivalent to claiming the raw gap is for men and women doing the same work. Think about it. If the gap occurs "simply because she isn't a man" then the reason for the disparity cannot be because she is doing different work. Doing different work would be a factor in addition to her not being a man.
PolitiFact Florida hilariously rated that claim "Mostly True." We wrote about it on March 14, 2017.
Fact checkers. D'oh.