Monday, April 18, 2011

Politifact: Could we have some consistency, please?

I'm a big fan of Politifact and Factcheck.org. They provide an important public service. But sometimes I find some of their scoring decisions strange, especially with categories like "half-true", "mostly true", and "mostly false". Recently, for instance, Politifact rated Michele Bachmann "false" for stating that the top 1% of wage earners pay 40% of federal taxes, and Obama "half-true"  for stating that incomes rose for the top 1% of wage earners and dropped for everyone else. Both statements are false, but could be considered true if you make assumptions about what they really meant by their statements. In an email to Politifact, I wrote,
Regarding: http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/apr/14/barack-obama/obama-says-incomes-increased-more-250000-top-1-per/

You give Obama a "half-true", for a statement that you acknowledge is false. Apparently, the "half-true" comes after making a bunch of assumptions that he didn't say.

Now look at this one: http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/apr/18/michele-bachmann/michele-bachmann-says-top-1-percent-pay-40-percent/

Bachmann also made a false statement, and you label it as such. But, if you assume she meant federal income taxes, it would be true. So, why not "half-true"?

I suggest some consistency. Either they are both "half-true", or both "false". Otherwise, it appears you are willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, but not Bachmann.

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