Rachel Maddow: PolitiFact... You Are Fired!

Rachel Maddow took the so-called "nonpartisan fact checking" web site, PolitiFact to the woodshed this Wednesday night for yet another incident where the site doesn't seem to understand what the definition of what a "fact" is. Paul Krugman has

Rachel Maddow took the so-called "nonpartisan fact checking" web site, PolitiFact to the woodshed this Wednesday night for yet another incident where the site doesn't seem to understand what the definition of what a "fact" is.

Paul Krugman has more on what set Rachel off this evening here -- When Facts Aren’t Facts:

The criterion, according to Politifact, seems to be that a fact isn’t a fact if it helps a Democratic narrative.

Jared Bernstein watches the train wreck. Obama said:

In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.

which is just true. Period.

But Politifact rated it as only “half true” because he was “essentially taking credit for job growth”. He didn’t actually take credit — and even if he had, a fact is still a fact.

I do not think that word means what Politifact thinks it means.

Paul followed up on that post which I'll share just a bit of here -- Finding the Truth:

Unfortunately, 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: even if a politician says something completely true, it gets ruled only partly true if Politifact feels that the fact is being used to gain an unfair political advantage. In the case of Obama’s job statement, Politifact first called it only half true, then upgraded that to mostly true, not because Obama said anything factually incorrect, but because Politifact perceived Obama as trying to imply that he was responsible for the gains.

This is deeply wrong on two levels. First, fact-checking should be about checking facts — not about trying to impose some sort of Marquess of Queensbury rules on how you’re allowed to use facts. Aside from undermining the mission, this makes the whole thing subjective — notice that Politifact wasn’t even analyzing what Obama said, they were analyzing their impression about what he might have been trying to imply. Leave that for the talking heads! [...]

But having defined its role as something that goes beyond checking facts to saying whether the facts are being used in some “proper” way, it then finds itself under pressure to be “even-handed”, which ends up meaning making excuses for Republican falsehoods and finding ways to criticize Democratic true statements.

And as Karoli already noted here at C&L, this is far from the first incident with this sort of behavior from the site -- Politifact Lie of the Year? More Like Politifact Pander of the Year.

Rachel Maddow had it right tonight with the end of her commentary:

MADDOW: PolitiFact, you are fired! You are a mess. You are fired. You are undermining the definition of the word fact in the English language by pretending to it in your name. The English language wants its word back. You are an embarrassment. You sully the reputation of anyone who cites you as the authority on "factishness" let alone facts. You are fired!

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