Friday, November 9, 2018

PolitiFact: "PolitiFact is not biased--here's why" Pt. 4

In an article titled "PolitiFact is not biased--here's why" PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan offers four points as evidence PolitiFact is not biased. This series deals with each of the four.

4. Reader support allows us to stay independent.

Our independent journalism, seeking only to sort out the truth in American policy, is what motivates us to keep publishing for the benefit of our readers. We began over a decade ago as a politics project at Florida’s largest daily newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. Today, we are a nonprofit newsroom that is part of the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists based in Florida.
As with Holan's third point offered to show PolitiFact is not biased, her fourth point gives no reason to think PolitiFact is not biased.

Does anybody need a list of partisan causes supported by public donations? Does anybody have the slightest doubt that PolitiFact's "Truth Squad" membership skews strongly left? If anyone harbors the second doubt we recommend checking out polls like this one that show moderates and conservatives place little trust in the media.

If PolitiFact relies on donations primarily from liberals, then how does that make it more independent instead of less independent? Were PolitiFact to displease its liberal base it could expect its primary source of private donations to shrink.

Here's something we'd like to see. And it's something that will never happen. Let PolitiFact poll its "Truth Squad" to find out how its ideology trends as a group. If conservatives and moderates are a distinct minority PolitiFact can use that information to bolster its membership outreach to those groups: "We need more support from conservatives who care about objective fact-checking!"

And of course that will never happen. It tears down the facade PolitiFact built to suggest that its reliance on public support somehow keeps it politically neutral. PolitiFact has no interest in that kind of transparency. That kind of truth is not in PolitiFact's self-interest.

The Main Point? Reader $upport

We do not buy that PolitiFact sincerely tried to put forth a serious argument that it is unbiased. The argument Holan put forward toward that end was simply way too weak to make that easily believable. We think the main point was to soften misgivings people may have about joining PolitiFact's financial support club, which it has dubbed its "Truth Squad."

Holan tipped off that purpose early in her article (bold emphasis added):
We expect it (accusations of bias--ed.). Afterall [sic], as an independent group measuring accuracy, we are disrupting the agendas of partisans and political operatives across the ideological spectrum. We do it to give people the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy, and to uphold the tradition of a free and independent press.

Still, we think it’s worth explaining our mission and methods, both to answer those who make the charge against us, and for our supporters when confronted by naysayers.
Also see the trimmed screen capture image below (bottom) with an ad asking readers to support PolitiFact.

If you ask us, PolitiFact's "Truth Squad" isn't worthy of the name if they buy Holan's argument. "Dupe Squad" would be more like it. Holan wants your money. And it looks like she's willing to put forward an argument she wouldn't buy herself to help keep that money flowing.

Holan offers no real answer to those who claim PolitiFact is biased. To do that, Holan would need to specifically answer the arguments critics use to support their claims.

PolitiFact finds it preferable to simply say it is unbiased without offering real evidence supporting its claim. And without rebutting the arguments of its detractors.

Is the embedded ad asking for money a mere coincidence? We added the red border for emphasis.

1 comment:

  1. PolitiFact should be ashamed of this list. Anyone with a basic level of critical thinking should be able to tell that non of these things prove you're not biased.

    The fact that they fail to admit they have bias is bias, their sources show bias, their subjective rating system show bias, this list might even show bias. I would like to see PolitiFact address these (and other) issues.

    Thank you Mr. White of your artful take down.


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