Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Progressives accusing PolitiFact of "centrist bias"

Left-leaning The Week has put out a couple of articles recently accusing PolitiFact of a "centrist bias."

Here's one of the accusations:
Is Joe Biden, contrary to his centrist reputation, a tax-and-spend liberal? That was the argument made by Politifact's Amy Sherman, defending him against accusations from the Bernie Sanders camp that in 2018, "Biden lauded Paul Ryan for proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare." Not so, says Politifact: "The Sanders campaign plucked out part of what Biden said but omitted the full context of his comments. We rate this statement False."

Unfortunately, it's a tendentious argument that totally misreads Biden's politics and history. He did indeed call for cuts to Social Security and Medicare in a 2018 speech at the Brookings Institution — part of a decades-long career of hawking pointless austerity. Yet, just like they did with Medicare-for-all, fact checkers are bending the truth to advance an ideological centrist agenda.
The argument, unlike many from-the-left criticisms of PolitiFact, isn't frivolous. We noted during the 2016 election that PolitiFact seemed tougher on Sanders than on his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It makes sense that wherever PolitiFact's ideology falls on the political continuum those to either side may experience a resulting bias.

And, in fact, that's our purpose in highlighting the accusation. A charge of centrist bias proves consistent with the charge of liberal bias. The Week is saying PolitiFact is biased toward political positions to its left and right. The Week just doesn't bother to highlight any of the "centrist" bias that harms conservatives.

We do that.

Plus we highlight good examples of PolitiFact's anti-progressive bias under the "Left Jab" tag.

Note: The "bending the truth" example from The Week doesn't wash.

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