Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FactCheck.org fact checks FactCheck.org

The October 31 article contains a remarkable claim

Throughout the debate Clinton resolutely avoided saying specifically what, if anything, she would do to shore up the finances of the Social Security system. She repeatedly called for "fiscal responsibility" and said she would appoint a bipartisan commission to study the system. And she made clear she was in no hurry to act:

Clinton: I think for us to act like Social Security is in crisis is a Republican trap.

In fact, the system is headed for nearly certain collapse unless some action is taken to increase taxes or at least slow down the projected rise of future benefits. And delay will only make the eventual corrections more painful, experts say.

The system's trustees state

So it is a fact that the system is headed for nearly certain collapse ! They mean it may be necessary to cut benefits to a level higher in real terms than the current level. Some collapse. Here the conventional wisdom is being enforced by an organization which claims to be checking facts.

The "painfulness" of corrections can not be a fact. the experts in question are political appointees whose intellectual dishonesty has been demonstrated. here factcheck.org takes sides in an open debate which depends on forecasts. The trustees perfect record of under-estimating revenues is not held to be relevant. Also factcheck.org describes a 25% cut in benefits (from the higher scheduled level) as a collapse.

A hint to factcheck.org -- facts are described in the past tense. When one uses the future tense, one is making a prediction. One should not take the statement of a partisan body involved in a fierce debate as absolute truth.

Odd that I need to explain these things.

Amazingly I was sent to that page by digby because factcheck.org corrected an error of fact which they made in the same article.

But at one point it was moderator Tim Russert who misled . He asked Sen. Clinton if she would lift a “ban” on releasing her White House communications, adding that “a letter written by President Clinton specifically [asks] that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012.” That misquotes Bill Clinton’s letter. There’s no “ban.”

Correction: Nov. 8: Our story originally stated that Sen. Clinton’s response to Russert’s question was misleading. We made the same mistake Russert did, misreading the former President’s letter to the Archives.

Of three criticisms of Clinton, one restates factual error and blames Clinton for pointing out that it is an error, one presents the Social Security Trustees claim as an uncontrovertible fact and the third notes that Clinton dodged a question.

And this is supposed to be fact checking ?

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