The PJ Tatler

PolitiFact or PolitiFAIL? MSM "fact checker" refutes itself on Romney's Obama debt claim

Politifact is an alleged fact check website targeting political figures operated by the St. Petersburg Times (FL). But an assessment posted on their website over the weekend shows how ideologically biased such “fact checking” can be.

The article written by Maryalice Gill (a reporter for the Nashua Telegraph [NH]) rates a recent statement as “Mostly True” made by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney claiming that Barack Obama will have added more to the federal debt than all of his 43 presidential predecessors. The problem with Gill’s “Mostly True” assessment is that Romney’s campaign relied on an earlier Politifact assessment rating the same claim by Republican House Whip Rep. Eric Cantor last November, which they rated as “True”.

So how did “PolitiFact” turn one of their “True” statements into “Mostly True”? Here’s how it went down:

Now let’s throw in a further complication. In an interview, Romney’s staff backed up the candidate’s statement in part by citing a prior ruling by PolitiFact.

Williams, Romney’s spokesman, cited PolitiFact “True” ruling on a claim by Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

In a letter to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in October 2010, Cantor wrote that “the budget submitted by Obama will add more to the debt than the outstanding debt of the previous 43 presidents combined.”

PolitiFact rated the statement True, and that was good enough for Romney’s campaign. “We actually pulled it right off the (Politifact) website,” Williams said in an interview. “We’re making the same contention that (Cantor) made.”

But when the topic came up in Romney’s claim, we re-checked our work and realized that in the Cantor fact-check we had only used the first option (the end of fiscal 2008 to the end of fiscal 2012) rather than the other two. Based on all three measurements, Romney is right by two but off by the other one. So we find his claim Mostly True.

So we find that “PolitiFact” changed the basis for their assessment once Republicans started using their own assessment to beat up their boyfriend Barack. So will they start giving out ratings of their own posts?

We rate PolitiFact’s blindingly partisan assessments as “Pants on Fire”.

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