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.

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