I’m so confused!
PolitiFact, the Tampa Bay Times’ “fact check” web page, has long been flagged on Ethics Alarms (and elsewhere, notably by the WSJ’s James Taranto) for its lack of integrity and flagrant bias towards the Left, Democrats, and President Obama. It was in June of 2012 that Ethics Alarms produced the “smoking gun” of PolitiFact’s perfidy, when the site pulled off a “when did you stop beating your wife” stunt to cast unfair suspicion on House Speaker John Boehner, “fact-checking” a groundless accusation and despite finding no evidence that it was true, labeling the accusation unsettled, because Boehner might do what he was accused of, eventually. In May of this year, as it slowly dawned on fair, English-comprehending Americans that then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was misleading the American people about what the CIA knew about the September Benghazi attack, and Jay Carney, as his job description requires, lied through his teeth about her performance, PolitiFact could only muster a “mostly false” rating. The site is a partisan spin-machine, using the dishonest guise of a neutral “fact-checker” to undermine trust in Republicans and bolster Democrats when they need cover, particularly the President, who needs cover a lot.
In October, when the nation was dividing itself into two groups—those who would concede that President Obama intentionally lied when he made his repeated statements assuring the public that nothing in his healthcare law would force them to lose their current plan or physicians, and those willing to torture language, memory and logic to claim otherwise—I pointed to the standing position of PolitiFact (from June of 2012) as putting it in the latter camp, a camp it had done nothing since to exit. Politifact had previously rated this guarantee as “true” (in 2008), and had defended it against Mitt Romney’s challenges during the 2012 campaign more than once).
This week, however. PolitiFact announced that Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan—Period” is the 2013 “Lie of the Year.” (Ethics Alarms had already awarded the President the title back in January for another, little-noted whopper, and Taranto had been sure that Obama’s “I didn’t set a red line” denial in September would take the prize.) So PolitiFact finally got it right—but what is this? That’s why I’m confused. Is PolitiFact demonstrating its humility and honesty, as well as integrity, by having the courage to admit that the lie it has been claiming was true to various degrees for five years was a lie after all? Or is PolitiFact cravenly taking the easy way out, abandoning its considered judgement to spare itself more ridicule, and perhaps universal recognition as the incompetent, manipulative hack-factory that it is? Should we trust PolitiFact more because it finally admitted it was helping the President lie, or less? Is this a demonstration of integrity, as statements that “we were wrong” should be, or an admission that PolitiFact has no integrity?
Thus your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is…
Should PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year cause us to trust it more, or less?
I recuse myself from this one.
I couldn’t possibly trust PolitiFact less.
Spark: Volokh Conspiracy