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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Marx Meets Hegel

oh sorry correction, the title should be Marx Meets Kessler.

I think that Glen Kessler has made it clear that he considers honesty equivilant to proper dedication to cutting entitlements.  Kessler and Politifact both fairly clearly decided that claims were false because they were demagoging Medicaare (which means criticizing a plan to fundamentally transform Medicare into something undoubtably different from Medicare as we know it).  Jon Chait concluded that one member of the Politifact team decided what was a true claim based on arguments about what is a good policy.  I think his post contains proof beyond reasonable doubt.

I think that critics of Politifact and Glenn Kessler have been much too reluctant to consider the extent to which they are determined to reach Ballanced bipartisanthinking conclusions and the extent to which they consider their opinions about policy to be objective truths.

There is no way I can resist critizing Marx for underestimating the role of ideology and upper middle class class interest.  That would be Greg Marx here.

Click the link and read the excellent post.

Here is my  sophomoric comment.

This is an excellent post.  However, I am not just joking when I argue that Marx has over-looked the important role of class interests (I hate to admit that the villager eagerness to cut Social Security and Medicare has convinced me that the other Marx guy actually had a point).

You don't consider another possible explanation for calling incivility a lie -- the fact checkers feel they must reach ballanced conclusions .  I recall a post chat or something in which someone noted that Kessler fact checked more claims by Republicans.  Kessler said he had checked and yes it is true and he will try harder to fact check Democrats.  The possibility that there could be a standard based on the importance and dubiousness of claims which did not yield a balanced result was not mentioned in the discussion.   It is clearly possible that, for example, Democrats make more false claims than Republicans.  If this is the case, then non-partisan unbiased reporting must reflect it.  Kessler showed no sign of recognizing this possibility.  Unless the parties are, in fact, roughly similar in falsehood, his reporting must be biased given his stated aim of reaching a balanced conclusion.

Most of the examples you note say that claims by Democrats that the fact checkers don't like are false.  Yes the Palin "fact check" includes the claim of ESP powers and the Pawlenty fact check insists that a word may not be used with its conventional meaning.    But the claims and the fact checks are obscure.

I admit that I can't help suspecting that you carefully looked for improper fact checks of Republicans, because you had examples of improper fact checks of claims by Democrats in your mind and wanted to write a Ballanced post.  I think it is OK to do that if and only if you write that you did that .  This is an opinion piece.  There is no reason not to discuss your thoughts along the way.  But, while I can't help suspecting, I don't claim ESP.  So I suggest you ask yourself if this is what you did and, if it is, whether you should have reported the process.

There is also a third possibility.  You consider inaccuracy and incivility possible causes of lie of the year pants on fire Pinocchios.  Another possibility is that advocating policy choices of which the fact checkers disapprove is penalized with Pinocchios.  Kessler has views on proper policy.  His dubious fact checks frequently involbe accusing people who don't agree with his views of falsehood.  His latest offers the opinion that Obama's deficit reduction plan is not a real plan.  His argument includes "However, the president has not directly taken on members of his own party; he also has not made the case for overhauling entitlement programs to the American people."

Here Kessler pretty much says that he won't side with Obama over Boehner on a claim of fact, although Boehner's claim was clearly false, because Obama hasn't done what Kessler thinks he should do.  I think Kessler has just clearly stated that his loyalty to "entitlement reform" is more important to him that mere facticity.  I know you wrote your post before his latest column (not an op-ed but a non fact check in the place of the fact check column because he's a Washington Post columnists can do whatever he wants).  But others guessed what is now proven beyond doubt.  Again, I suspect you guessed this too, but decided that civility, moderation (and any hope of actual influence) forced you to not mention the hypothesis that Kessler thinks only that which he considers rational is real.

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