Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Steve Benen rips into PolitiFact.

The short version is that when Rep. Eric Cantor appeared on TV last weekend and said the the nation had a “growing deficit” when it is actually shrinking, the “fact-checking” website rated that howler as “Half True,” because they theorize that at some point in the future, the deficit might grow again.

In theory, I’m not reflexively opposed to the idea of websites fact-checking important claims made by political figures, but if you’re going to have the word “fact” in your name, you have a responsibility to get the details right. And too often, PolitiFact just isn’t good at its job.

But even by its standards, this is a doozy. Cantor said the deficit is growing; PolitiFact knows that the deficit is shrinking; but it nevertheless tells the public that the claim is “half true” because in future years, if certain budget conditions happen a certain way, Cantor’s claim might someday become true.

By that logic, if Mr. Cantor said the Earth is going to be wiped out by a supernova next week, PoliticFact would rate that as “Half True” because all scientific evidence indicates that at some point the sun is going to explode.  In several billion years.  So he’s half right.

Who needs them?