Media fact checkers have been allowed to massage the truth to benefit a liberal agenda for far too long. Fact checkers, like the mainstream media, are made up of mostly liberal journalists, who tend to cherry-pick information to support a liberal narrative. As Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto put it on Twitter: “‘Fact checking’ is opinion journalism pretending to be some sort of heightened objectivity.”
None have shown their bias more than PolitiFact. According to The Weekly Standard:
Surveys done by the University of Minnesota and George Mason University have shown that the supposedly impartial “fact checking” news organization rates Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims and twice as much, respectively.
Mark Tapscott reported in The Daily Caller last September that PolitiFact had a major “conflict of interest with the Clinton foundation,” raising questions about whether it was tailoring fact checks to please a specific donor.
It’s a legitimate concern, given their longstanding pattern of questionable fact checks. When it matters most to the Democrats’ agenda (that is, when the false claim is first told), PolitiFact is right there for them, giving the Democrat the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, PolitiFact is Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to shooting down each and every inconvenient claim made by a Republican. President Trump, with his penchant for hyperbole, has been an absolute boon for them.
PolitiFact’s track record on ObamaCare
The classic example of PolitiFact running interference for Democrats is its treatment of Barack Obama’s infamous ObamaCare lie, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” The claim was originally rated to be “true” or “mostly true.” Later on, as inconvenient facts emerged proving the claim to be sketchy at best, they downgraded their fact check to “half true.” Only when it became patently obvious to everyone that the claim was a cruel hoax did PolitiFact admit the truth.
In October 2008, PolitiFact said that Obama’s oft-repeated healthcare claim was true. By mid-2009, with Obama safely elected president, it downgraded the claim to half true. In 2012, while Obama was running for re-election, PolitiFact continued to rate the false ObamaCare claim as “half true,” even though it was by then known that a majority of employer-sponsored plans would be illegal under Obamacare.
Only after ObamaCare was implemented in the fall of 2013, and millions of people actually started losing their plans, did PolitiFact rate the claim to be (as everyone with a shred of common sense knew from the beginning) a huge, Pants on Fire Lie of the Year. Of course, that “fact check” came five years too late for the millions of people who lost their health care plans.
They should have slinked away in shame and embarrassment after that, but no. They continue to offer bogus fact checks on ObamaCare.
Not pleased, Hewitt had Aaron Sharockman, executive director of PolitiFact, on his show to explain how they came to that conclusion. Hewitt had made the claim on “Meet the Press,” basing his assertion on a Washington Post article that reported Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini’s assertion that the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are in a “death spiral.”
Sharockman said that fact check writer Allison Graves couldn’t find that article because she thought the article was in the New York Times — but it can easily be Googled using the key words “Aetna” and “death spiral.”
Hewitt asked the 35-year-old Sharockman if he would consider the CEO of Aetna to be an expert.
“He is certainly an expert,” Sharockman replied.
“The probity and value of his statements are quite high given his expertise and the fact that he’s in a regulated situation in which he cannot mislead investors,” said Hewitt. “The CEO of a huge health care company says it’s in a death spiral. You wish to dismiss that evidence to say my assertion is false — not mostly false, not debatable, not the subject of great controversy — but false. So to do that, you have to not look up the CEO of Aetna, and not credit him with the authority that goes with that position, even though you don’t know basic terms like FEHB and adverse selection. That’s what I’m getting to,” Hewitt said.
“I think your site’s a piece of crap,” Hewitt declared later in the interview. When Sharockman threatened to “fact check” Hewitt’s interview of him, Hewitt cried, “go ahead and fact check me! Lefties every day fact check me. You guys are just a left-wing site that tries to make things radioactive in advance of Democratic talking points to serve the overall Democratic agenda!”
“You are literally a bunch of left-wing hacks,” Hewitt said.
“We rated what you said as false and I stand by it,” Sharockman said, launching into a long dissertation about the importance of having a debate about health care policy going forward. His voice was quickly drowned out by Hewitt’s bumper music. This fact check, like their other ObamaCare fact checks, will not withstand the test of time.
PolitiFact fails to call out the Obama administration on false assertion about Syrian chemical weapons
In a July 2014 appearance on “Meet The Press,” then-Secretary of State Kerry said, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out [of Syria].”
PolitiFact in all its wisdom rated that “mostly true.”
That claim, of course, expired when Syria launched a chemical attack on the rebel stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun last week.
The New York Times reported: “Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers.”
A former Obama official admitted on Sunday that the U.S. “always knew” that the U.S. agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not clear all chemical weapons out of Syria.
“We always knew we had not gotten everything, that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration,” Tony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state and former deputy national security adviser under Barack Obama, told the New York Times.
John Kerry, then Obama’s secretary of state, and Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, had both touted a 2013 agreement with Russia, Syria and the U.S. that was designed to rid the Assad regime of its chemical weapons stockpile. Kerry said in 2014 that they deal had resulted in Syria purging “100 percent” of its chemical agents.
It was nice of PolitiFact to give team Obama the benefit of the doubt on that one. Rest assured, it gives Republicans no such benefit.
PolitiFact’s 2012 Lie of the Year
In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed in a campaign ad that Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs. Jeep’s parent company gave the claim “a quick and clear denial” and that was good enough for PolitiFact, which went on to rate that the “Lie of the Year.”
But it was 100% true.
In January of 2013 Reuters reported:
Fiat (FIA.MI) and its U.S. unit Chrysler expect to roll out at least 100,000 Jeeps in China when production starts in 2014 as they seek to catch up with rivals in the world’s biggest car market. …
“We expect production of around 100,000 Jeeps per year which is expandable to 200,000,” [Chrysler CEO Sergio] Marchionne, who is also CEO of Chrysler, said on the sidelines of a conference, adding production could start in 18 months.
So in 2012 (an election year), PolitiFact chose as its “Lie of the Year” a Republican claim that was true, while ignoring a whole host of actual lies told by Democrats that had real world consequences.
As Bryan Preston noted here at PJ Media in December of 2012, there were plenty to choose from:
- The various lies members of the Obama administration made after the attack in Benghazi.
Obama lied about how four Americans lost their lives, repeatedly and with enthusiasm. He sent his ambassador and Secretary of State out to lie. His spokesman lied. They all lied. It was one, huge, and obvious lie that has not been fully exposed to this day.
- NBC’s deceptive edit of the George Zimmerman 911 call:
NBC took the 911 call made by George Zimmerman regarding a suspicious but unidentified figure walking in the rain and appearing to be casing the area, and and intentionally deceptively edited it. [To make him sound racist.]
- MSNBC’s deceptive edit of a Romney clip to make him appear out-of-touch.
No producers were fired in the wake of that lie’s exposure. Mitchell would eventually add to the first lie and blame the original lie on the “constraints” of 24-hour cable news. Think about that. The constraints. Of a news network that airs a product it calls “news” 24 hours a day.
No matter how often or how epically they fail, PolitiFact keeps bending over backward to issue fact checks that are politically expedient to Democrats.
PolitiFact goes to bat for Susan Rice:
In an attempt to protect serial prevaricator Susan Rice from criticism after she played dumb in response to accusations that she misused intelligence, PolitiFact decided “too little is known about the allegations against Rice” to assess whether her March 22 claim on PBS — “I know nothing about this” — was truthful.
Rice had denied any knowledge about the “incidental collection of intelligence” on Trump transition officials, telling PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff: “I know nothing about this” and “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”
“It’s possible, given the question asked, Rice was trying to say that she didn’t know what Nunes was specifically talking about, as opposed to not knowing anything about incidental surveillance pickups of Trump’s associates generally, ” PolitiFact offered in its “fact check.”
Of course, PolitiFact wasn’t always loath to get inside someone’s head.
In 2012, when they accused Mitt Romney of telling the “Lie of the Year,” it was for implying that Chrysler was moving all Jeep production to China, even though the campaign ad merely said, “Obama took Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to the Italians who are going to build jeeps in China.” Every word of that was true.
In conclusion, it’s hard to disagree with Hugh Hewitt, PolitiFact is “a piece of crap.”