Monday, September 26, 2016

Politico Fact Checking Clinton

I am very pleased that the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and Politico have decided to report the fact that Donald trump makes extraordinarily many false assertions. I'm fine with refraining from using the word "lie" which implies that the liar knows the truth. Given that he might be elected President, I hope he is lying. I fear he is delusional sincerely believing whatever it is convenient for him to believe or uninterested in the truth (to use the technical term that he is bullshitting). I also agree with Politico's decision to fact check Clinton too and to compare the two rates of false claims. But I disagree with the fact checking of Clinton. I rate Four of Politico's claims that Clinton erred to be False One as considering a difference of opinion a fact check One as refusing to interpret words with the usual meanings given the context of a political campaign One as interpreting normal political hyperbole as a claim of fact One actual false Clinton claim and one where it depends on what definition "has" has. So I say Politico is wrong three times as much as Clinton even though Kyle Cheney, Isaac Arnsdorf, Daniel Lippman and Daniel Strauss chose the most favorable 8 topics to debate Clinton and had the last word (actually the only words I read). The hyperbole one is ambiguous so maybe they are only 5/3 as error prone on the most favorable possible ground. In any case, I am quite sure that moving second, choosing the topics least favorable to Clinton and having the last word, Politico managed to beat Clinton 4 clear falsehoods to 1. Wow. Their claims 1. That Clinton falsely said she was very careful with classified information. First even if people who are very careful make mistakes (human perfection is impossible). Clinton must be compared with some other human being not an ideal. Politico makes no claim that anyone has ever been more careful. Clinton's alleged error was receiving an e-mail. This isn't an act. The error would be failing to denounce an aid who slipped up (after noticing the (C)s in documents. Obviously most US political journalists have lost their minds over Clinton's e-mails. I am confident that this will be another object lesson (used in journalism schools) of failed journalism like the Whitewater blood sports, the war on Gore, the run up to the Iraq war. Here I think Politico is treating the conventional wisdom as known fact and the prefered narrative as objective truth. In any case "very careful" is a matter of opinion and Clinton's claim is definitely not a false claim of fact. 2. Clinton said "I’ve met the standard that everyone running for president has met. ... healthy" I guess I have to go to hyperbole and standard political English for the every. Obviously Clinton isn't claiming that Lincoln reported his cholesterol levels. Aside from that, another fact checker seems to roughly rate Politico's claim as false with (according to Politico)
PolitiFact has found that Clinton’s health release in 2015 was on par with Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s from 2012, and she’s released more details since her bout with pneumonia that led to a collapse outside a 9/11 memorial. Trump has left out more details than Clinton,
Note that this is in the fact check which claims her assertion is false. I claim Politico's assertion is false given the ordinary understanding of words (especially theirs). 3. 3. Trump’s “economic plans would ... include an estimated $4 billion tax cut for his own family just by eliminating the estate tax.” This is the one widely mocked on Twitter. Politico claims that Clinton's claim is false, because she treats Trump's claim that he has $10 billion as true. So one of Clinton's few alleged lies is only false because of a Trump lie. Also Politico is wrong again. The weasel word "estimated" makes the claim true. Clinton didn't mention that the estimate was provided by Donald Trump. This is not a falsehood. I rate Politico's claim to be false. 4. "So if you are a family living in an expensive city, you would be able to find an affordable place to call home.” Here Politico is right and Clinton is wrong. She claims a program which would help some families would make housing affordable to all who live in expensive cities. I think this may be an almost honest slip. She is trying to explain the purpose of the program. I can delete some words and a comma and make a two singulars plural to generate the very similar true claims Families living in expensive cities would be able to find an affordable place to call home. This is true. I think the "if you are" are a clumsy attempt to make an abstract benefit concrete by focusing on a hypothetical family. t is standard for politicians to falsely claim that programs will achieve their aims. But it is false. Current score Politico one out of 4. Sad. 5 “We’ve actually put in one place all of our plans,” she said while holding up a copy of her book “Stronger Together." “We have this old-fashioned idea if we’re asking you to support us, we should tell you what we’re going to do.” Politico notes that, if elected, Clinton won't do that because Congress will block her. It is absolutely standard for Presidential candidates to describe proposals as things that will be done. In any case, Politico's claim depends entirely on the referents of "we" and "us". If "we" are the Democrats who support the Clinton campaign (including almost all candidates for the House and Senate) and voters were support all of them, then the Democrats would have overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate and would pass Clintons proposals and then add more. In any case, Clinton's language is absolutely 100% standard. Politico is insisting that words not be interpreted as they are always always used in political campaigns. 6. Clinton said a technical true thing which sure sounds false “Your former guest, Donald Trump, has refused to actually admit that President Obama is an American, born in America.” This is true. Trump has frequently refused to admit that. He has also admitted it. I can change Clinton's true claim to a false claim adding one word “Your former guest, Donald Trump, has [consistently] refused to actually admit that President Obama is an American, born in America.” This claim is false, but Clinton didn't say that. Now I will add some more words which I really honestly often use to explain how "has" is used in English to Italians ( and how it does not translate the ha in the Italian passato prossimo) “Your former guest, Donald Trump, has, at least once in his life, refused to actually admit that President Obama is an American, born in America.” This is a clearly true claim. It is, I think the one and only correct clarification of Clinton's very brief and simple and therefore ambiguous statement. It is what she meant to say. Obviously she wasn't denying the existence of Trump's very famous recent admission. Here I think the Clinton's have a problem, because they are lawyers and know what exactly what some key words mean. I think the Politico writers sincerely thought they had caught Clinton in a slip of the tongue. But only because they don't understand the meaning of the word "has". I made the same error they did. I think that Clinton should have said "“Your former guest, Donald Trump, has frequently refused to actually admit that President Obama is an American, born in America.” This strengthens the claim but it also makes it clear that the claim that Trump has done something does not imply the claim that he has done only that. I rate Politico's claim as false (and admit again that I made the same error before re-reading the Clinton quote). Oh Christ they counted that one sentence as two false claims. That's crazy and she is right and they are wrong so I score Politico as 4 falsehoods to 1. 8 "“We have a Republican nominee for president who incites hatred and violence like we’ve never seen before.” This is clearly exaggerated. I'd say Osama Bin Laden beat Trump in the incitement business (so far). This is clearly normal hyperbole. I consider the truth value of Clinton's claim ambiguous. So one false claim and one normal exaggeration. Now I think they are very proud of themselves at Politico for drawing the unBallanced conclusion that Trump lies much more than Clinton. But I think they were very careful to leave no opening for critics to claim they had missed a Clinton falsehood. So their fact check of Clinton demonstrates their trouble with facts not hers.

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