Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Married gays thrown out of restaurants? PolitiFact biased again

Quite a few conservative outlets hit the story of PolitiFact defending President Biden's gays thrown out of restaurants claim:

Newsbusters, Infowars, and Breitbart (among others) ran stories on PolitiFact's ruling. 

The Big Issue: Inconsistency

We did not find the biggest issue dealt with in those stories. PolitiFact used a totally different approach with Biden's claim than it has used in other cases, such as with respect to the legality of abortion up through the moment of birth.

Iowa Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, for example, received a "Mostly False" rating after claiming the "Women's Health Protection Act of 2022" would allow abortion "up until delivery."

PolitiFact justified the ruling by claiming that such late abortions would only be allowed in limited cases (bold emphasis added):

The bill, which passed the U.S. House but is considered unlikely to win approval in the Senate, would permit abortion up to delivery, but only in limited cases — when medical professionals determine that an abortion is necessary to save the life or the health of the mother. Such situations account for a tiny fraction of all abortions, federal data shows. Ignoring this qualifier is misleading. 

PolitiFact, for its part, misleadingly ignores the fact that the "health of the mother" represents an easily accessed loophole for achieving the effect of elective abortion.

We found an abortion story at FactCheck.org that emphasized the conflict over the "Mother's health" ambiguity:

The disagreement centers on what each side interprets the “health” exception to mean, Mary Ziegler, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis and the author of six books on the abortion debate and the law, told us. “Republicans view those health exceptions as sort of like a blanket permission to have an abortion whenever you want.” Democrats say “it’s an exception for life or health.”

Of course, saying "it's an exception for life or health" fails to resolve the ambiguity of the term "health." The bill in question in both fact check articles, in fact, refers to risk to the life or health of the mother. Pregnancy is inherently risky. The law the Democrats proposed draws no lines on those risks, apparently leaving it entirely to the discretion of health providers.

PolitiFact's fact check offers no parallel to the key information included in the FactCheck story.

Does the proposed abortion rights law then allow abortion up through the moment of birth? Yes, it does. PolitiFact admits as much in its summary paragraphs. But PolitiFact rules that claim "Mostly False" because the ambiguous language of the bill blurs the line between elective abortion and an abortion intended to save the life of the mother.

Of note, the article from FactCheck.org reports the majority of third trimester abortions are done because of fetal abnormality. To be sure, a fetal abnormality may represent a risk to the life of the mother. But the statistic doesn't allow us to distinguish between those cases and ones where the mother simply elected not to birth an abnormal baby.

Issue Two: Anecdotal proof?

It seems PolitiFact has never looked for examples of late-term elective abortion to stack up against Democrats' claims about the legality of elective abortion up through the moment of birth. But if PolitiFact could find examples of restaurants denying service to gays, even if unmarried, it could use those to support Biden's claim. Or something.

PolitiFact claimed it found examples supporting Biden's claim:

It’s unclear how frequently people are denied service based on their sexual orientation. PolitiFact found several news stories detailing such reports between 2014 and 2021.

Breitbart questioned it:

When it came to actually citing instances of discrimination, Politifact offered questionable anecdotes. One in Florida, for instance, centered on a transgender person being kicked out of an establishment for trying to use the women’s restroom. Another story allegedly happened in Texas close to a decade ago in 2014 while another anecdote allegedly happened in the ultra-progressive bastion of New York City in 2021. Politifact also failed to note that the New York restaurant apologized to the couple and fired the employee who reportedly kicked them out.

How do PolitiFact's "several" examples stack up?

"Several" News Stories "Detailing Such Reports" 

The NBC News story offers only one line to support the claim the gay couple was kicked out of the restaurant:
A gay New York City couple say they were harassed and asked to leave a restaurant this month because of their sexuality.

Bizarrely, the article fails to offer any reporting in support of the claim the couple was asked to leave. The story reports that an employee used "homophobic" language, land later apologized. And the employee was later fired while the gay couple was offered a meal. But the story has no description of anyone asking the couple to leave the restaurant. It just has the summarized claim from the lede. That's it. It's "He said" without the "She said."

This is the same case as the one above. The gay couple is named, and the names are the same as the NY couple in the NBC News story.

The News12 version at least contains reporting bearing on the "kicked out" part of the headline, even if the support only counts as partial:

They say although the female employee asked them to leave the restaurant, none of the other employees enforced it. 

So one employee asked them to leave, but without support from other employees (including the manager or owner?). The couple canceled their order and left on account of offense, not because the restaurant kicked them out.

 "Allegedly." Seriously. It's in the story. But that's good evidence in PolitiFact's eyes.

Also (bold emphasis added):

Dana Kozlov, with CBS 2, attempted to interview the employee identified by the students, but he said he was just a customer. Another employee told the station to turn off their cameras.

Does this count as an example supporting Biden if it was merely another customer kicking the gay couple out of the restaurant?

It should go without saying that a trans woman getting kicked out of a nightclub for using the women's restroom is not getting kicked out for being gay. Presumably PolitiFact is able to distinguish between "gay" and "trans."

The details: Two customers harassed an LGBT+ group at the bar. The bar kicked out all of the disputants, and forcibly removed those who refused to leave--with the transgender (gay, PolitiFact?) ejectees claiming they received rougher treatment when forced to leave.

This example appears legit. It features an interview with the bar owner that at least partially confirms details reported by the ejected couple.

Was the transgender woman gay?

This is the same case as above: ""Florida trans woman kicked out of nightclub for using women’s restroom," attributed to WFLA-TV. Bold emphasis added:

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (WFLA/NBC) — A transgender woman in Florida said she was kicked out of a nightclub after she used the women’s restroom, according to a report by NBC affiliate WBBH.

The stories are identical, in fact. Why include two links to the same exact story by Nathaniel Rodriguez? And why not cite the story Rodriguez cited as his source

The primary source confuses matters with its reporting (bold emphasis added):

But that fun didn’t last long. Ayers said after she used the restroom, things quickly went wrong after security told her she had used the men’s restroom.

The reporting is inconsistent with the story's headline. So it's most likely a typo or transcription error.

Perhaps anti-gay and anti-trans mean the same thing if you're a fact checker? So a 75-year-old with a walker, a fellow customer, yelled at a transgender woman. In fact-checkerese, that means the restaurant kicked out a patron for being gay(?).

Despite the April 15, 2011 date PolitiFact put on this citation, the link leads to a 2018 video report about a gay couple kicked out of their UBER ride after they shared a kiss. The link has "kicked-out-of-uber" embedded. How did PolitiFact's version get "pub" in the headline?

We found no evidence at the Internet Archive that the story's title had changed. We did find a story with a matching headline and 2011 date, but the events took place in London, England. Getting booted out of a pub in England doesn't help Biden's point much, as far as we can see.

This one's another version of a story PolitiFact already listed. See ""Video shows transgender woman being aggressively kicked out Los Angeles bar after Pride event," Again, "transgender" apparently equals "gay" at PolitiFact.

The (paywalled!) Washington Post story, as one may discern from the title, concerns a transgender woman. PolitiFact lumps the transgender woman in with gay people without evidence. Maybe they think all transgender women are gay. But even if the transgender woman was gay in this case, the ejection took place after the individual's ID did not support their restroom choice. To be fair, the story appears to reliably show that the District of Columbia restaurant may not legally adhere to that requirement:

Simply put, a person who identifies as, or presents as, a man should be permitted to use a men’s restroom, and a person who identifies as, or presents as a woman, should be permitted to use a women’s restroom. Refusing to allow individuals to use bathrooms or facilities that are congruent with their gender identity or expression is a form of discrimination under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

Are you a man who wants to visit the women's restaurant. Present as a woman and apparently you're in. Otherwise you're the victim of discrimination.

That's PolitiFact's third citation of a story about the Bronx couple.

If you change "Dallas Morning News" to "Dallas News," that justifies repeating an otherwise identical citation found up above. Same title, same date, same story at the same URL.

"Allegedly" is right in the headline this time. Again, the story contains no objective reporting to support that the couple was "kicked out." Likewise, no reporting sheds light that would settle the reported dispute as to whether the Burger King was open or closed.

PolitiFact's use of this citation conflates gay marriage as a ceremony with homosexual orientation. It kinda-sorta qualifies as refusing restaurant service because the couple was lesbian. But if it wasn't a wedding rehearsal dinner would their relationship have mattered?


PolitiFact lists 16 citations in support of President Biden's claim, after claiming it has "several" examples from 2014 to 2021.

Take out the duplicate items (different citations concerning the same case) and we're left with 11.

Take out the citation of an event in England (or treating UBER as a restaurant) and we're left with 10.

Take out five cases that were transgender (orientation undocumented) and we're left with five.

Discount the case where it was apparently an individual customer asking the gay couple to leave and we're left with four.

Here's what's left:

  1. The Bronx couple who were told to leave by one employee, with no enforcement of that request.
  2. The Dallas case from 2014 where the restaurant claimed the gay couple broke its rules of decorum (best example, by our reading)
  3. The California Burger King case. Was the restaurant open or closed? He said, she said.
  4. The lesbian rehearsal dinner canceled (second-best example, by our reading).
Of the four, we have one relatively clear example (No. 2), at least based on the reporting, and three that only dubiously match Biden's claim.

PolitiFact claimed it had several examples.

Have we mentioned that PolitiFact is biased?

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