Tuesday, April 9, 2019

PolitiFact: 'Tweets' is to blame!

As if we needed a new reason to condemn the utility of PolitiFact's "report card" featurettes.

PolitiFact, once a candidate has accumulated 10 or more "Truth-O-Meter" ratings, features a page showing a graphic display of the distribution of those ratings. Here's a typical one:

We've always objected to these "report cards" because PolitiFact allows selection bias to serve as the basis for its datasets. In other words, the set of statements making up the basis for the graph is not representative. PolitiFact makes no effort to ensure that it is representative.

Today we ran across a fresh reason for regarding the report cards as unrepresentative. A PolitiFact fact check found that a charge against President Trump, that he was calling illegal immigrants "animals," was "False." PolitiFact's fact check notes that Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Pete Buttigieg retweeted the falsehood along with comments condemning Trump's supposed choice of words. Trump, it turned out, was referring to gang members and not ordinary illegal immigrants.

By blaming the falsehood on "Tweets," PolitiFact need not sully the report cards of Gillibrand and Buttigieg.

Bad, naughty "Tweets"!

Good, virtuous Gillibrand. Just look at that report card! No "False" and no "Pants on Fire."

The likewise good and virtuous Buttigieg does not yet have enough Truth-O-Meter ratings to qualify for a report card. He has just one "True" rating and one "Half True" rating. And you can rest assured that when Buttigieg does have a report card graphic that his retweet of a falsehood about Trump will not appear on his record. "Tweets" gets the blame instead.

With just a glance at "Tweets'" report card, one can tell "Tweets" is less virtuous than either Gillibrand or Buttigieg.

Except we're kidding because comparing the report cards is a worthless exercise.

We've repeatedly called on PolitiFact to add disclaimers to its "report cards" informing readers that the report cards serve as no useful guide in deciding which candidate to support.

We believe PolitiFact resists that suggestion because it wants its worthless report cards to influence voters. Don't vote for naughty "Tweets." Vote for virtuous Kirsten Gillibrand. Or virtuous Pete Buttigieg. It's from PolitiFact. And it's science-ish.

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