Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's up with Politifact? Why are they so awful?

I am going to defend both Rick and Bill White against stupid Politifact Texas factchecking... mostly just bash Politifact though... because it is terrible.

The latest is a "false" given to Rick for saying that nobody in the press covered his 10th Amendment press conference (link). Strangely though you have to read all the way to the end to discover what Rick was getting at. Excerpt follows...
We found one Statesman news article that could explain why Perry says no one from the mainstream media covered the press conference. The article by Jason Embry of the Statesman’s Capitol staff -- published a week after the event -- states that Perry's remarks gave him a bounce in national attention even though the resolution itself “barely drew a mention in the print editions of the state’s daily newspapers” the day after the press conference.
I have to say... when someone says "it was embarrassing for our team... nobody was at that basketball game last night," they don't literally mean that zero people were at the basketball game. They mean that several thousand were there when 15 thousand should have been there. When someone says that "everyone and their dog was at that party last week," they don't literally mean that all 6 billion humans and their billions of canine friends were at the party. They just mean that a lot of people were there.

When Rick said that "We had a press conference here that interestingly no one in the mainstream media covered," he didn't mean that literally zero press showed up... he meant that very few showed up... until it hit the bigtime on blogs and on Drudge and suddenly everyone was talking about it. At the time I blogged about how it went viral without the msm really talking about it (link). I also blogged about how other blogs were suddenly paying attention to Rick despite almost no mainstream media articles about it (link).

I also blogged about the interchange between Rick and Kay's former spokesman Hans Klingler in which Klingler bizarrely claimed that Rick was taking the low road (link). Nobody was talking about the press conference at that time...

So when Politifact tries to claim that Rick's claim is false, they need to read their own facts. By Politifact's own admission, there were only two articles written about it, and 5 pictures taken, and there may have been two reporters there... incredibly small coverage and practically "no one" for what turned into a huge deal after blogs and social media got a hold of a video shot by Rick's own peeps and posted online...

I rate Politifact's fact check as misleading and thin-skinned. They seem to mostly choose things they know they can spin into "false" or "pants on fire" when it comes to Rick. In this case, they didn't like Rick bashing the msm, even though Rick was completely correct. If you listen to the entire interview on the Texas Tribune website, you can hear Rick explain what he meant by "no one" and how it took YouTube to make it spread (link).

Now... to defend Bill White from this stupid "Politipinion." already did a pretty good job defending him on the "Soviet style budgeting" claim, but I wanted to add a few things on a different one (link). The one I want to defend Bill White on was his claim that Houston was a national leader in job growth, which is true despite what Politifarce claims (link). Excerpt follows...
"As Houston's mayor, I helped our area lead the nation in job growth," White wrote responding to a questionnaire from the League of Women Voters of Texas, a nonpartisan group that encourages active participation in government.
Some 244,100 jobs were added in the Houston area during the period, compared to 156,800 in Washington, the state with the second-highest increase in jobs. Texas was first with 943,000 new jobs.

We confirmed those numbers — and found a wrinkle the White campaign overlooked. It turns out that Dallas, which gained 265,800 nonfarm jobs from 2003 through 2009, led the country in job growth.
This is just stupid. Houston and Dallas both gained a lot of jobs from 2003 to 2009. Houston in the past several years can claim without any stretching that it led the nation in job growth. So could Dallas. Houston and Dallas are incredibly close in that race, off by a negligible number in the big scheme of things. Lots of other Texas cities for that matter could claim greater job growth in percentage terms despite being small towns.

Politicrap, which has given White 57% true and 71% at least half true (and compared to 15% true and 55% at least half true for Rick... is just being nitpicky in this case.

Bill White gets away with a lot of whoppers that are not being Politifacted... I wonder if that means Gardner Selby and his team are being fed more anti-Rick stuff, or if Rick's peeps are not feeding enough anti-White issues... or maybe Politifact is not posting claims about Rick they determine to be true in the end.

I think a more transparent way to do this could be for Politifact to announce publicly they are fact checking a claim, then announce their results several days later. If they are unable to verify one way or another, they would create a new category for that. Instead of "half true" or "barely true" editorial statements... which will probably be used in debates and political ads down the road... they should give their rankings less connotative meanings.

Politifact should also stop fact checking rhetoric or opinions, and stick with facts. And they should stop determining that their facts are the only relevant facts. For example when Rick claimed that Texas accounted for 70% of all new jobs in America from 2007 to 2008, he was 100% correct. I have looked at the numbers myself. It's a true statement. If anything Rick was understating the case... considering that job losses took place nationally.

But Politifact rated it false despite no facts backing their claim up. They interviewed two people who were not fans of Rick... one a professor and one a left leaning think tank guy... and they both just said it wasn't true. So therefore... it wasn't true, despite the numbers saying that the claim was true.

My question for the audience... what's up with Politifact? Who is overseeing that? It seems like they put out a really poor product that does not enlighten or inform the public but instead seeks to nitpick...


  1. Politifact is a bunch of communist scumbags. Same with most of the Austin American Statesman idiots.

  2. "Politifact should also stop fact checking rhetoric or opinions, and stick with facts."

    Good point. Here's an easy one. Republican Party of Texas claim: Air Force Pilot is a private sector job. Go!

  3. Several of us have taken to calling the thing PolitiFarce.

    Journalists do a poor enough job covering the news objectively. The LAST thing we need them doing is editorial posturing in the guise of fact-checking. Too many of their straight news stories already do that!

    Just say no to PolitiFarce. Or have a good laugh at them. But don't take them seriously. :)

  4. The real question is why isn't PolitiFact checking Bill White's easily disproven claim that Rick Perry has never held a private sector job. Rick was a rancher for a long period of time. That's where they should be going.

    The Air Force service is also perfectly relevant in terms of showing that Bill White's attack on Rick is off base. By the way, Karl-Thomas (who has a hyphenated first name? That's just weird), the RPT didn't claim the Air Force is a private sector job. They just included it in a defense of what Rick did before becoming a politician. Several years flying planes for America is a pretty relevant thing to include. That was a big sacrifice.

    Moreover, Bill White has been a politician for a long time, too. I don't get your weird blog on Burnt Orange about this. Maybe I do, though.

  5. Politifact holds itself up as the arbiter and the oracle of all that is true, but they have a blatantly obvious bias against Republicans.

    No wonder the newspapers are failing and going out of business.

  6. Bill White is an idiot.


Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.