Wednesday, April 09, 2014

More on Chait's Hate of Politifact

In the post below, I linkened to Jon Chait denouncing Politifact for calling the DNSC's add asserting that Republicans proposed eliminating Medicare the lie of the year 2011. I was actually looking for his earlier post denouncing Politifact for rating the claim "pants on fire". I didn't read the more recent (that is Dec 20 2011) post, but I'm glad I have since it includes the wonderful snark "Politifact has a shaky grasp on the term fact, which is a problem if you’re in the fact-assessing business." and "Is that “ending Medicare?” Well, it’s a matter of opinion. At some point, a change is dramatic enough that it is clearly ending the program. If you proposed to replace Medicare with a plan to give everybody two free aspirin on their 65th birthday, I would hope Politfact would concede that this would be “ending Medicare,” even if you call the free aspirin “Medicare.”"

(I like my own example in which the Medicare insurance program for the elderly is eliminated and a post office in Idaho is named "Medicare" but I'll take "two free asprin" and call it for Chait.)

In both posts, Chait notes that, when they should be discussing whether political claims of fact are true, Politifact denounces claims because they are criticisms of entitlement reform and Politifact thinks that entitlement reform is good.

In the lie of the year post

The item explaining this year’s choice largely consists of irrelevant filler. For instance, Politifact quotes a worried budget scold:
"In terms of creating a national conversation about fiscal reform, the last thing we need is demagoguing attacks against people who have put forward serious policy proposals," said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst with the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "It’s very worrying."
Yes, if your agenda is to encourage politicians to propose deficit reduction, then you’ll be worried about any criticism of any deficit reduction proposal, accurate or otherwise. So what?
Notice here how criticism from a "bipartisan" organization is presented as fact checking. Evidently there can be no "bipartisan" errors and there were WMD in Iraq.

In the pants on fire post

"2. Politifact: "Republicans say that future spending projections for Medicare are not sustainable, and the program requires changes."

Obviously this has no relevance to the truth of the Democrats' ad."

This is in what is supposed to be a fact check of an ad which did not assert that the current Medicare program is sustainable. It is a matter of opinion, but also a matter of opinion which has nothing whatever to do with the claims of fact which are allegedly being checked.

In the Lie of the year post Chait goes on to conclude "But it’s not a partisan issue. Politifact had some genuine Democratic lies to choose from. Politifact is just a plain shoddy, not-very-smart group, and this is true when they’re calling Republicans liars as well."

Clicking the concluding clause leads to Chait complaining that Politifact falsely rates the true Republican assertion that the ACA includes Medicare cuts as false. It is clear that it is not a partisan issue, it is an ideological issue. Politifact considers criticism of any proposed Medicare cuts to be so bad that it's the moral equivalent of a lie (and I'm sure of proof that the critic is fat, stupid and a lousy tipper). This isn't partisanship, this is epistymology -- Politifact defines false to mean "either not corresponding to reality or criticizing cuts to the Medicare budget"

Well this too long post is two years too late too. The fact that MSM villagers inside the beltway (and in Florida) consider the desirablity of cutting social security and Medicare to be objective facts so that advocating such policy isn't advocacy is now about as well known as the location of Ukraine. But I still find it shocking.

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