Is PolitiFact campaigning for Obama?

posted at 8:01 pm on August 19, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

Recently, the fact-checking organizations PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org failed to properly analyze an ad by President Obama claiming that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Just Facts President Jim Agresti and I subsequently hammered both organizations for what appears to be a severe case of intellectual dishonesty.

Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common problem at PolitiFact. Conservatives rightly point to a liberal bent at Fact Check, but the organization is pretty solid at analyzing what’s going on with claims by members of both major political parties. On the other hand, with the arrival of the general election and the otherwise politically-quiet month of August, PolitiFact seems to have gone from being a respectable, if liberal-leaning, organization to a campaign slot for Obama.

This Obama bias was shown in a recent claim by PolitiFact Wisconsin (PFW) that a Tweet by Obama national co-chair and actress Eva Longoria about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is “half-true.” From the Tweet:

“Today Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, who wants to cut Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students!”

Again, PFW ranks this claim as “half-true.” Their primary evidence? An unsubstantiated claim by President Obama in April 2012:

Fortunately, our colleagues at PolitiFact National evaluated a similar statement made by Obama himself in April 2012, a few days after the GOP-controlled House approved Ryan’s budget resolution. (The plan didn’t pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate.)

Obama said that if spending reductions in the resolution “were to be spread out evenly,” nearly 10 million college students would see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each. The White House told our colleagues the president was referring to the Pell Grant program.

So, Ryan’s plan does not specify cuts to Pell Grants. Obama is simply applying the total spending cuts in the plan evenly across the overall budget to derive a Pell Grant number.

This alone should make PolitiFact’s claim laughable. However, following a link from the PFW analysis to the Department of Education’s website, one sees the Department has requested Pell Grants whose cost will total $36.629 billion – meaning that in a budget proposal that spends nearly one hundred times what the Department has requested, PolitiFact is making big assumptions. And while the liberal Center for Budget & Policy Priorities (CBPP) makes the claim that Pell Grants would take $166 billion in “cuts” over ten years if the Ryan/House budget were to be made, those “cuts” are assumed from the language of the budget proposal, not directly stated by the budget proposal.

PFW continues to shoot itself in the proverbial foot as the article goes further. It turns out most of their analysis is based upon a “he said, she said” situation:

FactCheck.org also looked at Pell Grants and Ryan’s plan. The University of Pennsylvania-based fact checkers concluded“it is certainly true that Ryan’s budget would require deep spending cuts,” but “it is hard to know what impact Ryan’s budget would have on specific programs because the plan contains so few details.”

We also sought input from Gillian Morris, spokeswoman for Obama’s campaign in Wisconsin, and Kevin Seifert, campaign manager for Ryan, who remains on the November 2012 ballot for his House seat.

Obama’s campaign cited an April 2012 opinion column by The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, which claims without evidence that 1 million students would lose Pell grants altogether. But that wasn’t Obama’s or Longoria’s claim. The campaign also provided a March 2012 blog post by Obama’s Office of Management and Budget director, but it uses the same assumptions the president did in his claim.

Ryan’s plan would make fewer students eligible for Pell money, according to an article in the conservative National Review cited by Ryan’s spokesman. But while bringing Pell spending “under control,” the budget would nevertheless maintain the maximum Pell grant at $5,500, Ryan wrote in response to criticism of his plan.

But it’s not over yet! In its closing, PFW makes its “half-true” rating even less believable:

We’re giving Longoria the same rating Obama got for making a claim that is partially accurate but leaves out important details — Half True.

To this writer, a “partially accurate” claim should get a “half-true” rating. That is, after all, basically the definition of “partially accurate.” To leave out important details on a partially accurate claim means the claim should either be “mostly false” or “false.”

[Originally posted at RightWingNews.com, and originally published at Big Journalism]

[Originally posted at RightWingNews.com.]

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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The answer to the headline is “yes”.

DocinPA on August 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Does a bear sh!t in the woods?

Dark Star on August 19, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Is the Pope Catholic?

Dark Star on August 19, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Smart of Democrats. Set up a fact checking website that appears to be neutral, until it’s time for discussing Democrat talking points. Then all opinions lie in Democratic favor. Very clever.

If morally despicable.

Book on August 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Fact-checking of Democrats: Anything a Dem says to bolster their position.

Fact-checking of Republicans: Anything a Dem says to bolster the Dem position.

Liam on August 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Big shock. They are no different than the rest of the media, even to some extent, Fox News.

Night Owl on August 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Hells yes they are…any more brain-busters?

iwasbornwithit on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Why do we continue to ask that question? We all know by this stage of the game that the vast majority of all media outlets, of all kinds and descriptions are left wing propaganda machines. Accept it and move on.

rplat on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

A Photo of Fauxchahontas, Literally, Begging For A Million Captions (and a Hot Air thread)…

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-photo-of-fauxchahontas-literally.html

M2RB: Steppenwolf

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Yes. It lean Left, er, “Forward.”

onlineanalyst on August 19, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Smart of Democrats. Set up a fact checking website that appears to be neutral, until it’s time for discussing Democrat talking points. Then all opinions lie in Democratic favor. Very clever.

If morally despicable.

Book on August 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Democrats have no morals or ethics, they have sold their souls to Satan in the form of adopting Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. If you have never read Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals you may think what I am saying is mere hyperbolic rhetoric. If you have read them, then you understand exactly where they got the idea to do that, and why.

What does “You didn’t build that” really mean?

SWalker on August 19, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Just think if ONE of the MSM or fact(less) check orgs. decided to be diligent with the truth..ONE…

And for now, a mini-hat tip to Newsweek…truth to be determined.

hillsoftx on August 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Resist ,
Will vomit hurt my iPad ?

Lucano on August 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

That’s OK. They can having dying dinosaurs like NYT, Newsweek, and CNN/MSNBC.

We’ve got FOX, talk radio and the Internet (tip of the hat to HA.com).

I like our chances.

VastRightWingConspirator on August 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

I actually don’t trust ANY FACTCHECKERS. And least of all anything associated with the Washington NotPost.

BTW, If you’re on Facebook this is a funny site with lots of pics, etc. about the DOTUS. MMMMMM, I didn’t see any references ironically to any “fact” checking organizations. There’s a great picture of Valerie Jarrett and her quote about Obama.

“Barack insults my intelligence” is the name of the page.

PappyD61 on August 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Is politifact part of the media? If yes, then there is your answer.

They’re bought and paid for by a communist who will do anything unscrupulous he can find to do. The truth is alien to him, and freedom to him is a sin. A bigger sin to the racist obama is that white people can breathe at all. If he gets 4 more years he’ll do all he can to remedy these problems.

Wolfmoon on August 19, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Will vomit hurt my iPad ?

Lucano on August 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

I’m sorry.

You’d think that her campaign staff would have seen the predictable disaster.

Palin on a Harley? Yeah, I can see that.

Fauxchahontas? ‘Bout as real as her recipes, “Cold Omelets with Crab Meat” and “Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing,” made with real, honest-to-goodness, 100% Oklahoman crabs!

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Is PolitiFact campaigning for Obama?

…uhm…that’s like asking me if I have to pee…when my bladder’s full!

KOOLAID2 on August 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Yes. Yes it is.

It is like so much of the media…in the tank for the current Campaigner-in-Chief.

Forget their ethical duty…ethics are fungible, right?

ProfShadow on August 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

I quit using PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org a long time ago. They’re both so deep in the liberal ilk’s hip pocket that they can’t be bothered to tell truths and give facts — and they haven’t for a very long time.

These days, you just can’t trust anybody for even a modicum of truth and facts — but yourself.

FlatFoot on August 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

PolitiFact and FactCheck are a little bit pregnant. How’s that for an answer?

onlineanalyst on August 19, 2012 at 8:29 PM

A Photo of Fauxchahontas, Literally, Begging For A Million Captions (and a Hot Air thread)…

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-photo-of-fauxchahontas-literally.html

M2RB: Steppenwolf

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

She manages to pull off riding B!tch while being the only person on the bike.

HumpBot Salvation on August 19, 2012 at 8:32 PM

This ad should be remade to show both ocommie and billary as the orwellian anti freedom scumbags.

I doubt it can be properly dubbed to update it, it might have to be completely re-shot.

The commercial for ocommie

Wolfmoon on August 19, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Just think if ONE of the MSM or fact(less) check orgs. decided to be diligent with the truth..ONE…

And for now, a mini-hat tip to Newsweek…truth to be determined.

hillsoftx on August 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Was surprised that they would publish anything from a former McCain advisor unless it was negative.
The article is really good.

redridinghood on August 19, 2012 at 8:36 PM

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

“You didn’t build this Hog”

DDay on August 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM

What we really need is an official US Ministry of Information and Propaganda. That way, all of us would get the “truth” handed to us directly and the media would not have to contort itself into pretzels in order to appear to be “unbiased.”

And, we could use a bit more cowbell…

coldwarrior on August 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Apology accepted .
Great catch by the way .

Lucano on August 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

I don’t know about the 1% tax rate thing as I’m not inclined to trust the DNC, but I was rather surprised to hear Romney say he’d paid at least 13% over the last ten years! I thought he would say like 20% or higher.

OK, so that’s more in actual dollars even though I pay a higher percent, but that really doesn’t sound all that bad…doesn’t mean I don’t hate the income tax regardless. Mitt should have to pay a tax on what he spends just like everyone else. He has more money, so he’ll spend more and thus kick in more revenue. And if he (or I) don’t want to spend, no one can just come in and demand our money, just because they can take it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 19, 2012 at 8:47 PM

***Alert***,

in light of Akins scew-up,,,
saddle-up,its going to be a h*lleva ride!

F’n Ugh!
_________

Exclusive: GOP scolded after drinking, nudity in Israel
8/19/12 8:09 PM EDT
********************

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79865.html

canopfor on August 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

The FBI looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but the interviews do not appear to have resulted in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79865.html#ixzz242jkeg8X

Whatever.

CW on August 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

“This motorcycle is an Indian, just like me.”

predator on August 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM

The funny story about Pell is that it was gutted last year.

Aid was capped with regard to the number of years it could apply. While that in and of itself is not a problem, the fact that the changes apply retroactively at the same time that many state legislatures restructured their own student aid programs to function off of Pell puts many students (especially those near graduation) in an awful position with no warning.

If similar changes were made to medicare or social security there would be blood in the streets, but because the changes applied to a small demographic with no power, money, or voice everyone goes along their merry way.

And yes, I am very personally affected by those changes, and I am bitter about them.

GYConservative on August 19, 2012 at 8:56 PM

canopfor on August 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Relax, skinny dipping is not a crime. And why in the heck would the FBI investigate a midnight swim?

DDay on August 19, 2012 at 8:57 PM

I love how her mouth is all curled up like she is saying “Vroom-vroom” … just like a 3 year-old. LOL!

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Exclusive: GOP scolded after drinking, nudity in Israel
8/19/12 8:09 PM EDT
********************

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79865.html

canopfor on August 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

You have got to frickin be kidding me. The New Black Panthers threaten to use violence at the GOP convention in Florida, Obama and Holder still have not come clean about Fast and Furious the DOJ refuses to file charges against Jon Corzine and yet some bunghole thinks this is news worthy?

SWalker on August 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Smart of Democrats. Set up a fact checking website that appears to be neutral, until it’s time for discussing Democrat talking points. Then all opinions lie in Democratic favor. Very clever.

If morally despicable.

Book on August 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Same with snopes. Founded in a kitchen by a husband and wife team of Clinton Groupies.

Del Dolemonte on August 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Presented without comment.

Tweet by Obama national co-chair and actress Eva Longoria about Rep. Paul Ryan…

aquaviva on August 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM

All I have to say is this:

Mutts for Mitt all agree …
Better in the crate than on the plate.

timberline on August 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Who isn’t might be the easier question?

Bmore on August 19, 2012 at 9:03 PM

You have got to frickin be kidding me. The New Black Panthers threaten to use violence at the GOP convention in Florida, Obama and Holder still have not come clean about Fast and Furious the DOJ refuses to file charges against Jon Corzine and yet some bunghole thinks this is news worthy?

SWalker on August 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

I hope you don’t mind but I just copied and pasted your reply over at Politico. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Capitalist Infidel on August 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

I hope you don’t mind but I just copied and pasted your reply over at Politico. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Capitalist Infidel on August 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Don’t mind at all…

SWalker on August 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Politifact is another left wing organization posing as neutral. So is Snopes for that matter. Laughable passes for Dems, black crime, economics, Obamacare, and other left wing causes.

pat on August 19, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Again, PFW ranks this claim as “half-true.” Their primary evidence? An unsubstantiated claim by President Obama in April 2012:

 
That’s super-duper-awesome that they can run their site just by asking Obama.
 
Are you lying here? No? Okay.
 
Is Romney lying here? He is? Okay, thanks. Alright, guess we’re done. We’ll call you next week. Hugs to Michelle.

rogerb on August 19, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Accept it and move on.

rplat

Accept what? You seem to be suggesting silence and ignorance.

If you refuse to examine the tactics and lies of the Left, you are condoning them.

chimney sweep on August 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

Obamacare will reduce the deficit. TRUE because the bill said so.

Wigglesworth on August 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

Don’t be silly. Politico hosted a Republican debate and the Republican Party would be a discredited joke that needs to be disbanded immediately if it turned out Politico was in league with the Democrat Party. So obviously they are a credible source.

Buddahpundit on August 19, 2012 at 9:26 PM

We await PF.com and FC.org seal approval from Soledad Obrien. Keep sharp eye out for her using either of these 2 the next time she needs help debating a Republican!

chickasaw42 on August 19, 2012 at 9:26 PM

“Today Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, who wants to cut Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students!”

I only wish it were true. Pell Grants have turned into a game where schools radically hike their tuition knowing that more students can get grants from the government thus shoveling tax money to overpaid leftist college educators who can’t make it at a real job. I would rate this tweet: “I wish it were true, but we all know that it won’t happen, therefore, unfortunately this is a false statement.”

Dollayo on August 19, 2012 at 9:30 PM

O/T To LibFreeorDie who yesterday posted that gorgeous aria from La Rondine:

That is one of my favorite arias. I have a version sung by Kiri Te Kanawa. Just exquisite. Thank you.

esr1951 on August 19, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Did anyone have any doubt that this would be the eventual role of those two organizations, especially given their origins?

Sort of clever in a Machiavellian way, but not surprising at all.

Would expect that by election time, every utterance of The One will be full-on truth as judged by these organizations and every utterance by Team Romney will be “Pants on Fire”. That will include Team Romney making the statement that the sky is blue or water is wet.

AZfederalist on August 19, 2012 at 9:31 PM

And again off topic since I was out of town yesterday:

Is there an update about KeyWestReader??

Thanks to all.

esr1951 on August 19, 2012 at 9:32 PM

PoliFact is the creation of the St. Petersburg/Tampa Times,one of the country’s most far-left rags. It was in bed with Obama in 2008 too.

bw222 on August 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Keep hammering them, Ed. Obviously this purported fact-checking blog needs a reputable blog like this one to fact check their own dubious facts and analysis. That’s pathetic.

Burke on August 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Is PolitiFact campaigning for Obama?

Is Mitt Romney a mormon?

Chaz706 on August 19, 2012 at 9:39 PM

And you hammer them, too, Dustin.

Burke on August 19, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Here’s the problem, and it’s really PolitiFact’s problem. Statements, even with multiple clauses, collected and distributed facts and strings of assertions, are digital, not analog. That is, either the entire statement is true, or it’s false. “Mostly True” or “Half True” leaves too much room for shenanigans. You can mischaracterize much of what your opponent says far too easily.

My solution? If you want to be a fact checker, then your assessment should be either “entirely true” or “false in one or more ways.” End of story. This isn’t Princess Bride where the victim can be “only mostly dead.”

giacomo on August 19, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Is PolitiFact campaigning for Obama?

Is the Pope Catholic?

Hardly an original question, but the answer is just that obvious.

A better question is, how often do conservatives give them cover to play this exact game by quoting them as an authority when they like what they have to say?

Sometimes Politifact sticks directly to the facts and calls out both sides. The same is true of factcheck.org. But you’re a fool to count on it. Every time Politifact criticizes a lie from the left, and you quote them approvingly, you’re giving them credibility to use when they show unmistakable bias.

The truth is that Politifact is as often as not Politifiction. Just because they put “fact” in their name and claim to call both sides out does not mean that we should pretend that their claims are true.

They are purely self-appointed referees, and in any case where the truth is more a matter of opinion, they’re going to favor the liberal slant.

Everyone should have picked up on this when Palin talked about “Death Panels” and Politifact called it, “The Lie of the Year.” Of course it was not a lie, at all, but a characterization of certain provisions of Obamacare that they disagreed with.

By accepting their false claims to be “fact-based” at face value, you give them the very credibility they are now attempting to use to promote Obama.

Bottom line: If Politifact ever gets it right in calling out a liberal liar, don’t do a story that says, “Politifact says that is a a lie.” The story should say, “Even Politificact agrees that it is a lie.”

Otherwise you’re letting yourself get played by someone who wants to declare himself the referee.

There Goes The Neighborhood on August 20, 2012 at 12:05 AM

I faught Politifact for over 2 months over Obama using signing statements, shortly after his election, and it being 1 of his many promises. They relented eventually, and rated it a “compromise”. And though they have noted 18 more instances, it is still rated a compromise. In other words, Politifact is horseshiat.

sybilll on August 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM

It’s official: Obama has almost twice as many fake Twitter followers as Romney.

Sharke on August 20, 2012 at 1:06 AM

^^What I meant to say is that Obama has twice the rate of fake Twitter followers as Romney.

Sharke on August 20, 2012 at 1:07 AM

Stop whining. Why don’t we have our own “non-partisan” fact checking organization? Huh??

At the outbreak of WWII the Polish army fought bravely–on horseback. Nuff said.

2ndMAW68 on August 20, 2012 at 7:06 AM

Just as a historical reminder (and a repeat of what I pointed out on the GR thread), the Lening…er, St. Petersburg Times, the host paper of the national version of Politi”Fact”, won a 2009 Pulitzer for Politi”Fact”‘s role in electing Teh SCOAMF.

Steve Eggleston on August 20, 2012 at 7:11 AM

Is PolitiFact campaigning for Obama?

Is a frog’s butt watertight?

petefrt on August 20, 2012 at 7:36 AM

First of all, let me say that I am shocked and dismayed to learn that Eva Longoria is not a solid and reliable source for information on fiscal policy.

That said, look at her statement: “Today Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, who wants to cut Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students!”

Obviously, this is half true. The true part is that Mitt Rommen piicked Paul Ryan. The false part is the bit about cutting Pell Grands to 10 Million students.

See… Half true. What’s the matter with you people?!?

Haiku Guy on August 20, 2012 at 8:46 AM

If I have to listen to political information from Hawt Chicks, I want to hear what Victoria Beckham has to say. Not because the information will because the information will be better, but because she has better legs.

Haiku Guy on August 20, 2012 at 8:54 AM

a campaign slot for Obama

You sure you don’t have a typo in that middle word, Dustin?

GWB on August 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

A Photo of Fauxchahontas, Literally, Begging For A Million Captions (and a Hot Air thread)…

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-photo-of-fauxchahontas-literally.html

M2RB: Steppenwolf

Resist We Much on August 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

is she channeling her inner ‘daughter’ of anarchy? :-)

jimver on August 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM