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Ed Driscoll

The ‘First Rule of Fact-Checking’

January 19th, 2013 - 1:58 pm

First there was “fake but accurate,” as the New York Times attempted to excuse fellow liberal hack Dan Rather’s attempt to cook the books in 2004. Eight years later, the increasingly Orwellian Politifact reverses the formulation; they find Mitt Romney’s claim that Jeep will be producing cars in China to be accurate but fake. Or as Mark Hemingway writes at the Weekly Standard, “PolitiFact Concedes Their ‘Lie of the Year’ is the ‘Literal Truth:’”

Earlier today, I wrote a lengthy critique pointing out the inconvenient fact that PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year — “The Romney campaign’s ad on Jeeps made in China” — turns out to be true. It involves a lot of complicated back and forth, so I encourage you to read that post if you’re not familiar with what’s going on. But the thrust of the matter is that the Romney campaign ran an ad saying that Jeep, the recipient of a taxpayer bailout, was going to start producing cars in China. Well, now PolitiFact has responded to my criticism, albeit obliquely, and their response leaves a lot to be desired:

Our story focused on the clear message of the Romney campaign’s ad, that jobs in the United States were being moved to China, or perhaps that Jeep was moving its entire operations to China. That is not the case and has never been the case.

Emphasis added. Now if the message of the ad was “clear,” why does PolitiFact say “perhaps” the ad meant to say “Jeep was moving its entire operations to China”? The ad, which you can watch here, never said that Jeep was moving U.S. jobs to China, let alone its entire operations to China. All the ad says, and this is correct, is that the Obama administration played a hand in selling Chrysler to “Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.” In fact, later in PolitiFact’s response they make this concession:

The Romney campaign was crafty with its word choice, so campaign aides could claim to be speaking the literal truth, but the ad left a false impression that all Jeep production was being moved to China.

At Ricochet, in a post titled the “First Rule of Fact-Checking,” Mark’s wife Mollie adds, “I’m just going to go out on a limb here but if you are unable to put the portion that’s a lie inside of quote marks, you might want to find another ‘lie of the year.’”

But then, for PoltiFact, the “First Rule of Fact-Checking” is rather like the “the first rule of Italian driving,” the motto of Raul Julia’s race car driving character in the 1976 film, The Gumball Rally, as he tears the rear-view mirror off his Ferrari:  “What is behind me is not important.” As with the rest of the MSM, PolitiFact is no doubt already off in search of new statements from GOP candidates to smear in the next election.

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