Monday, December 19, 2022

PolitiFact's gender pay gap shenanigans continue (2022 edition)

PolitiFact has completed quite a few fact checks touching the gender wage gap. And a Dec. 16, 2022 item from PolitiFact Wisconsin carries on PolitiFact's rich tradition of left-leaning inconsistency.

As we have noted here and at Zebra Fact Check, PolitiFact wanders all over the map on gender pay gap claims. Here's the central thing to remember, for those seeking consistency: The raw gender wage gap, such as the one cited by Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the claim pictured above, serves as no measure of gender (or racial) discrimination. PolitiFact Wisconsin both acknowledges that and ignores it for the sake of Baldwin's "Truth-O-Meter" rating.

PolitiFact Wisconsin:

As PolitiFact National, which has reviewed numerous pay-gap claims over the years, has noted: "a speaker’s choice of words can significantly affect whether their point about the gender pay gap is right or wrong." 


... (T)he government data isn’t based on men and women doing the same jobs. Rather, it’s an average that widens or closes by factors such as race, job type and age. Research suggests women are overrepresented in jobs that tend to pay less, for a variety of reasons.

PolitiFact Wisconsin explains why Baldwin does not deserve a "True" rating and proceeds to award Baldwin a "True" rating.

Review what Baldwin said. Again, from PolitiFact Wisconsin:

"On Latina Equal Pay Day, we bring attention to the fact that Latina workers make 54 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. It’s past time that Latina workers are given equal pay for equal work."

Using the raw wage gap figure while appealing for equal pay for equal work implies that the raw wage gap represents the gap between groups doing equal work.

That's exactly what Baldwin did.  It's flatly deceptive, but "earns" a "True" from PolitiFact.

PolitiFact simply ignores the problem with Baldwin's implied argument, except for purposes of amplifying it. 

It works like this: Explicitly say that the raw wage gap occurs between groups doing the same job and get a "Mostly False" (unless you're extremely lucky!) Merely imply that the raw wage gap occurs between groups, as Baldwin did, and get "True" (unless you're unlucky!).

PolitiFact's inconsistency on the gender wage gap all by itself should dispel the notion that PolitiFact does its job in a non-partisan or objective manner.

It's a journalistic disgrace.


PolitiFact's fact check is marvelously horrible. The deck reads "Yes, wage gap does have big impact on Latina workers." The wage gap itself is an effect, primarily of Latina women's choices of low-paying, unskilled jobs. It's not the wage gap driving them into those jobs. It's those jobs driving the effect of a pay gap. The job choices create the impact of the wage gap, not vice-versa.

PolitiFact repeatedly mentions that the wage gap represents the difference between what the average white man makes compared to Latina women. But it's a median figure, not an average. Past PolitiFact gender gap stories likewise tend to ignore the distinction. PolitiFact writes "The averages were based on median earnings for full- and part-time workers." We can think of no solid justification for averaging averages or averaging medians. It's the kind of math people invent to mislead others.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

More PedantiFact: PolitiFact vs. Kevin McCarthy

 Fact checkers supposedly don't fact check opinions.

PolitiFact fact checks opinions. Real Clear Politics has kept a study going looking at how often a set of top fact checkers rate opinions or predictions (among other things). PolitiFact has paced the group.

We expect Real Clear Politics will get around to adding this Nov. 30, 2022 PolitiFact fact check to the list:


Why do we think McCarthy was expressing an opinion?

In other words, why do we have the opinion that McCarthy was expressing an opinion?

We're intentionally giving away the answer, of course. "I think" counts as one of the classic ways of marking one's statement as an opinion.

Why does PolitiFact ignore such an obvious clue?

We think it's likely PolitiFact was looking to build a narrative. By overlooking that McCarthy was expressing opinion and focusing on one part of his statement to the exclusion of another, PolitiFact was able to support that narrative under the guise of fact-checking.

PolitiFact supports the narrative that Donald Trump counts as a racist. Facts don't matter in pursuit of that narrative.

PolitiFact quotes McCarthy correctly, and we'll highlight the part that PolitiFact decided to omit from its fact-checking focus even though it's the only part that McCarthy stated as fact:

"I think President Trump came out four times and condemned him and didn't know who he was," McCarthy said.

That drew real-time pushback from a reporter, who said, "He didn't condemn him or his ideology." McCarthy responded, "The president didn't know who he was."
For PolitiFact, it isn't important whether Trump knew who Nick Fuentes was. It's important that Fuentes is a white nationalist, and important to link Fuentes to Trump in a way that reinforces the narrative that Trump is a racist. Toward that end, PolitiFact ignores the claim Trump did not know who Fuentes was and focuses on the supposed lack of condemnation.

We would argue that Trump saying he did not know Fuentes counts as a condemnation, when we consider the context.

PolitiFact argues the opposite, albeit without any real argument in support:

A look at Trump’s statements during the week between the Nov. 22 dinner and McCarthy’s press availability Nov. 29 show that McCarthy was wrong. Specifically, Trump did not condemn Fuentes on four occasions; instead, Trump said in four statements that he did not know who Fuentes was.
PolitiFact implicitly says that it does not count as a condemnation to profess ignorance of Fuentes' identity.

Here's why that's wrong.

Trump was implying that if he had known who Fuentes was, he would not be welcome at dinner. Hardly anything could be more obvious, particularly given the context that Trump went on record condemning neo-Nazis and white nationalism.

We can even source Trump's quotation through PolitiFact, albeit the fact checkers do an excellent job of not drawing attention to it:

"And you had people -- and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists -- because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay?"

So the fact checkers, though they have reason to know Trump condemned white nationalism, leave that out of a fact check focusing on whether Trump condemned white nationalism. That's context fit for suppression.

The facts don't matter when liberal bloggers posing as unbiased fact checkers want to promote a narrative.