Does PolitiFact live up to its name? Or does it live up to its name a little too well?
This is the basis of most of the criticism of the PolitiFact feature of the Tampa Bay Times (ugh, there is that name change again).
Critics, such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times in today’s op-ed column, see the choice of statements to be analyzed by PolitiFact having a hint of bias. The main criticism is that the site includes context of the statement deemed “half-true” or “mostly false,” not just their facts.
According to Krugman, Politifact has “lost sight of what it was supposed to be doing.”
“Instead of simply saying whether a claim is true, it’s trying to act as some kind of referee of what it imagines to be fair play,” he adds.
A statement is deemed “half-true” when it is factual, but used in the context of political gain. It is stepping a little too much into editorializing, which goes against the spirit of the PolitiFact feature.
Or is it simply due to the “Politi” part of the PolitiFact name? Isn’t truth is a truly subjective product, taken not only in the words spoken, but also into the context of where (and most importantly, why) the words are said.
That is the essential issue with political speech. One must constantly say “he (or she) is right, but…” The more (or less) you say that about any given political figure, the better (or worse) that figure becomes. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the political beast, to use “facts,” no matter how true, to support your views.
Read Krugman’s column here:
- In continuing war on its own credibility, PolitiFact calls accurate Obama jobs statement ‘half true’ (dailykos.com)
- PolitiFact Florida: Fact-checking the Tampa debate, looking to Jacksonville debate (tampabay.com)
- PolitiFact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ didn’t come from Democrats. It came from the Wall Street Journal. (dailykos.com)
- PolitiFact N.J.: Conservative group’s ad says Democrat gave New Jersey the nation’s highest income tax rates (nj.com)
- PolitiFact to critics: You’re all just whining partisans (dailykos.com)