Lies vs. Hyperbole & “Fact”-checking
Somehow, Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty has not been an issue this cycle. The Mainstream media (msm) would have us believe it’s too busy correcting the bigger liar, Donald Trump…. So, what’s the truth?:
There are at least six well-known fact-checking websites. We will consider examples from two of the most popular.
Let’s start with Politifact:
Politifact’s method is to classify statements into one of six categories. A writer does research and makes a recommendation, which is reviewed by at least three editors. The determination is made by majority vote.
Politifact claims to consider: words, context and information available at the time. They also say statements can be right and wrong and though Politifact will “try to verify their statements” they leave the burden of proof on the speaker. Then, what is the purpose of Politifact?
First, let’s consider some problems with the method:
How do you determine a majority vote for one of six categories? Do they have a vote for each category? Do they only vote on the category recommended by the writer?
The categories themselves are mostly arbitrary:
“True-The statement is true and there’s nothing significant missing.” [well, what’s the definition of significant?]
“Mostly True-The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.” [what percentage of truth is required to be “accurate”?]
“Half True-The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details.” [Like … Jared is known as a spokesman for Subway?].
“Mostly False-The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.” [Like … Jared is known as a spokesman for Subway?]
“False-The statement is not accurate.” [this one makes sense.]
“Pants on Fire-The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.” [what’s the definition of ridiculous?]
Five of their six categories leave substantial room for bias. ‘Half True’ and ‘Mostly False’ are essentially the same thing. If these two categories are the finalists, where a statement ends up is very likely to turn on who made it, and the editors opinion of them.
Let’s look at some examples:
— Share the Facts (@sharethefact) October 30, 2016
Not too bad. Hillary makes a false claim that is labeled false. However, why is saying it only went to republicans not ‘ridiculous’? It’s an attempt to intentionally mislead. Again, not terrible, but it does illustrate the arbitrary nature of Politifact. Here’s another:
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) October 29, 2016
Politifact admits “[t]he picture is mixed”. Yet, they’ve selected the more favorable to Hillary out of, ‘Half True’ and ‘Mostly False’. Why? What is their reasoning? Pay close attention to “Our Ruling” towards the bottom. It mentions Hillary’s context was Michelle Obama, Obama’s focus was obesity and Clinton’s campaign “drew [Politifact’s] attention to obesity trends.” However, if you read the article you will find only one probative, obesity-based medical quote, “‘[w]e aren’t seeing significant reductions, but there are not continued increases, especially among young children.’ Skinner said.” Does Hillary’s statement leave out important details or ignore critical facts that would give a different impression? If so, then it’s not half-true.
Check out this Clinton email server report. Note when it was written and what we know now (many, including Politifact, knew then).
Here is an October 27th list of Trump’s and Clinton’s ten most misleading statements. Let’s compare them:
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) May 31, 2016
Knowing what we know now, there is no reason this shouldn’t be Pants on Fire. Politifact does corrections.
[Her second biggest lie: claiming Comey said her answers were mostly honest. Rating: Pants on Fire.]
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) July 6, 2016
Again, there is absolutely no reason this shouldn’t be Pants on Fire: as of July 6th they had discovered over two thousand.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) April 3, 2016
They should’ve created a new category after seeing Hillary’s Wall Street transcripts.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) January 27, 2016
Politifact’s article says “she is hardly the only one to lay out a specific plan.” This should be Pants on Fire.
Today, Clinton repeated Pants on Fire claim that only she among '16 cands said she wouldn't raise middle class taxes https://t.co/PeXR50OHIl
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) August 17, 2016
Notice the subject matter of Hillary’s lies. They are all substantive, important issues.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) June 22, 2016
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) April 16, 2015
So, Hillary says 4/4. It turns out to be 1/4. Politifact goes with false. No. It’s a ridiculous claim. Pants on Fire.
Is the gun industry totally protected against liability? No, not totally. https://t.co/AdE885SbUR
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) June 27, 2016
This is a knowingly false statement made with intent to mislead. Is it not ridiculous because Politifact agrees with Hillary’s intent? Pants on Fire.
Before moving to Trump it should be mentioned that every one of Hillary’s lies was substantial, issue-based and dramatically important to this election; most were mitigated by Politifact to a lesser offense. Most importantly, Hillary’s ‘most misleading statements’ left off: The Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, Benghazi Mom, treatment of women, etc. The lies on Politifact’s list aren’t even in the top one-hundred.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) October 19, 2016
Read the article and watch Politifact deconstruct this statement until it fits neatly the way they want. Compare any of the Hillary articles.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) August 11, 2016
This is hysterical. Trump speaks in hyperbole. Politifact’s list admits that. However, for creating a political jingle to prove a point about the vacuum left by Obama (which Clinton supported), Trump gets the worst possible rating. Compare that to the favorable treatment Hillary received when lying about substantive issues.
[Most misleading statement number three is that Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the JFK assassination. Rating: Pants on Fire. I am not a Trump apologist.]
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) September 27, 2016
We now know how coordinated Hillary’s campaign is. For this to still be rated false is a joke. This should be Half True, or Mostly False (at worst). Birtherism began in 2008. Hillary was interviewed on television. Her answer did not dispose of the issue. Trump brought it back up, but this rating is inaccurate.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) February 12, 2016
Seems ridiculous right? Well, read the article with emphasis on the excerpt below.
The source of Trump’s 42 percent figure appears to be a column by David Stockman, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s budget director.Stockman calculated that there are currently 210 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 68 — what he calls a “plausible measure of the potential workforce.” If you assume that each of those people is able to hold down a full-time job, he wrote, they would offer a total of 420 billion potential working hours. However, during 2014, Stockman noted, only 240 billion working hours were actually recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.If you run the numbers, “the real unemployment rate was 42.9 percent,” Stockman wrote.Economists say Stockman’s way of looking at the question — using actual hours worked divided by a theoretical maximum that could have been worked, rather than determining whether individual people are employed or unemployed — is provocative. But they say this raw measurement has serious flaws.Indeed, in his column, Stockman acknowledges that this figure is imperfect, even though his tone is flip when he does so.”Yes, we have to allow for non-working wives, students, the disabled, early retirees and coupon clippers,” he wrote. “We also have drifters, grifters, welfare cheats, bums and people between jobs, enrolled in training programs, on sabbaticals and much else.”
Trump’s claim was that he heard 42%. Yet, even with evidence to back it up the claim is labeled Pants on Fire. It should not be. It is the perfect candidate for either Mostly False or even Half True.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) September 7, 2016
The article quotes Trump saying the government has no idea. His 3 or 30 comment is hyperbole. He is not saying he thinks there’s 30. He’s saying the government doesn’t know. Politifact goes on to rationalize its rating by showing how illegal immigrant populations are estimated, emphasis on the word estimated …. Trump’s claim (in essence). There’s no way this should be Pants on Fire. Also, are you noticing a trend in Trump’s lies vs. Hillary’s lies?
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) July 25, 2016
Trump says he talked to border patrol agents who told him that. Politifact does not address this, but gives their worst rating anyway. Not to mention, Trump said ‘send’, and Politifact changes it to ‘push’.
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) November 22, 2015
First, notice how Politifact doesn’t give you a full quote? Read the article for the actual quote. It is inarticulate at best and intentionally misleading at worst. But, I remember feeling sickened by television footage of other countries celebrating by the thousands. Is this Trump’s reference? In fact, it was:
“It was on television. I saw it,” Trump said. “It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
This statement should be rated mostly true.
Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton laughed at a 12-year-old rape victim. False. https://t.co/J3UMkZy0mn
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) October 10, 2016
I suggest to you that the only reason this isn’t rated ‘Pants on Fire’ is so Politifact can maintain some credibility. Kathy Shelton, that young rape victim, does think Hillary was laughing at her. Moreover, she is the victim of the process, which was the subject of Hillary’s laughter. Worst case, this should be Mostly True. Why wasn’t it?
"I did not support the war in Iraq … The record shows that I’m right." False. https://t.co/t5cH1tereh
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) September 27, 2016
In an unprepared moment, during an extremely patriotic time in our nation’s history, Trump answered the question, are you for the war in Iraq? with … wait for it … “I guess so.” Now he’s a liar? Wrong. Very soon after he gave an actual answer. False is the wrong category.
Why does Politifact do this?:
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) November 1, 2016
But we know better.
So, Hillary’s most egregious lies are missing from her list of most misleading statements and Trump’s most misleading statements are basically irrelevant, intentional misinterpretations of hyperbole. Not to mention, the absurd arbitration with which Politifact categorizes.
They don’t make their methods readily available.
Click the above link, scroll to the bottom of the page and read the bio of their director emeritus, Brooks Jackson. He started his “fact”-checking career by helping Bill Clinton get elected.
This article perfectly illustrates the problem with Factcheck.org. First, they are affiliated with CNN. Second, Jake Tapper is not trustworthy, despite being one of the better “journalists” around. The video below is from the article:
Trump did not say what Hillary suggested. Hillary lied. But, Jake excuses the lie and justifies Hillary’s argument. Also, where’s the money, Jake?
[If you watch the video, then you will understand why my analysis is so matter-of-fact.]