Saturday, April 6, 2024

PolitiFact's farcical "Pants on Fire" for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Updated)

Robert F. Kennedy's presidential bid has taken its toll on our "Pants on Fire" bias study.

Kennedy claimed half the two "Pants on Fire" ratings given to Democrats in 2023 and just received the only one so far awarded in 2024. It distorts the bias numbers.

This April 5, 2024 rating of Kennedy, by the way, is ridiculous:

It's just another instance of the liberal bloggers at PolitiFact elevating narrative way above facts.

Kennedy was making a point about the protests not counting as an insurrection. PolitiFact narrowed its focus down to "protestors carried no weapons" and broadened "weapons" to count things not all that helpful in taking over the government of a superpower. PolitiFact also (again) ignored the principle established by founding editor Bill Adair that the most important aspect of a numbers claim is its underlying point.


Kennedy’s statement goes further than Trump, because he said protesters "carried no weapons." A weapon doesn’t have to be a gun.

Sure, PolitiFact, but insurrectionists armed with flagpoles and fire extinguishers aren't going to be able to take and hold the United States government.  PolitiFact did offer evidence of protesters charged with possession of firearms, but none of them were used to threaten or harm police or security forces. In other words, the firearms weren't used to carry out any "insurrection."

Imagine the headline:

Insurrectionists using flagpoles, bear spray and fire extinguishers take over federal government

It's completely absurd.

Here's what Kennedy said, via PolitiFact:
"I have not examined the evidence in detail, but reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection," Kennedy said in his April 5 statement. "They observe that the protestors carried no weapons, had no plans or ability to seize the reins of government, and that (former President Donald) Trump himself had urged them to protest ‘peacefully.’"
The obvious point is the protesters were not armed befitting a serious attempt to overthrown the government. PolitiFact cites one person charged with firing a gun into the air twice before packing it away again. Other gun charges were related to possession.

Here's PolitiFact's fact check in terms of X's Community Notes:

In terms of our "Pants on Fire" bias study, this "Pants on Fire" given to a Democrat is actually attacking a conservative viewpoint. We kept this data point in the study at face value, but it actually deserves an asterisk.

Strikethrough explanation April 9, 2024: We neglected to note that Kennedy is now listed as an Independent at PolitiFact. So, Kennedy does throw a spanner in the 2023 PoF percentages, but our chart now removes him from consideration for his one PoF in 2024, as a Democrat anyway.

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