Open Letter To Politifact Groupies

To:  Everyone in the media and alt media that lionizes “PolitiFact”
From: Mitch Berg, person who actually cares about the truth
Re:  Suck It.

All,

Politifact’s “Lie Of The Year” was in fact true.

Please go reassess the tragedy that is your life and career.

That is all.

(Via Bill C)

23 thoughts on “Open Letter To Politifact Groupies

  1. Politicians say things all the time that are demonstrably false, and where a ‘fact check’ should not generate any controversy. Where they stood on a previous vote, for example.
    Yet these “fact checkers” don’t want to do that, they want to write opinion pieces based on speculation and have it taken as the truth. Check out the twisted logic in this politifact statement:

    Palin’s claim sounds a little like another statement making the rounds, which says that health care reform would mandate counseling for seniors on how to end their lives sooner. We rated this claim Pants on Fire ! The truth is that the health bill allows Medicare, for the first time, to pay for doctors’ appointments for patients to discuss living wills and other end-of-life issues with their physicians. These types of appointments are completely optional, and AARP supports the measure.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/aug/10/sarah-palin/sarah-palin-barack-obama-death-panel/

    The AARP’s support or non-support of a measure is now a measure of truth? What’s does it mean to say “sounds a little like another statement making the rounds, which says that health care reform would mandate counseling for seniors on how to end their lives sooner.” Is it even possible to determine the truthfulness of this statement? “a little like”? And mandate that counseling be offered, counseling be sought, or merely mandating that it paid for?
    Jeebus, what a mess.

  2. So Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” was itself the “Lie of the Year.”

    Back when I was in school, we learned that such a thing was called irony. Or maybe hypocrisy. But, I guess it’s really just rank partisanship cloaked in the bullshit of independent journalism.

  3. Mr. Berg,

    You recently used a lede which stated:
    “Why Is Obama Putting So Much Effort Into Gun Control, Where The Public Opposes Him 3:1, For No Discernable Political Purpose?”

    Was that ‘claim’ based on a particular poll or data set? I noticed you did not supply a link or reference for your rather bold ‘statement of fact’.

    Ironically on the very same day you wrote the piece, there were two polls, one published by WaPo/ABC and another separate AP poll. Both the AP and WaPo/ABC polls supplied results that would imply your lede was based on opinion rather than hard data. Care to comment?

    Is the so called “fact” standard used on STID any different than you wish to hold anyone else to? Or is this blog meant to cater to a certain audience that is more willing to accept a more malleable truth as long as it fits the party line.

  4. Emery,

    So you are a plant from Penigma, aren’t you?

    My standard of fact is “is it true”.

    I based the statement on a couple of polls: at that moment, in the wake of Wayne LaPierre’s speech, the big one was a Rasmussen Poll showing that the people were siding with the NRA on armed guards at school (which the Administration seems to have found persuasive enough to quietly reverse its own position on the subject, from mockery to executive order).

    I also use polling that shows that general public support for the NRA and the originalist view of the Second Amendment is very, very high and essentially unchanged (to possibly up) from before Obama took office

    As to polls showing support for banning “assault weapons” – as pointed out before, they are polls of random adults. There’s always been a majority of all adults that’ve polled in favor of whatever the hot-button gun control topic was. It’s never translated to support at the polls – and that majority support has eroded over the past 25 years, from “a majority support gun control” to “a majority support registering handguns” to “a majority support banning assault weapons and large magazines”. It’s a majority built on sand, and notwithstanding the odd spike as this past month, it’s getting smaller over time.

    Finally – the “fact standard” in SITD is “is it true?” If you think I’m wrong about something, by all means say why. I’m occasionally wrong (although on the gun issue, it’s vanishingly rare). Bring an actual argument; muttering cutiepies about my “standards” and your unearned contempt for “certain audiences” isn’t an argument, but it does lend credence to the theory that you’re one of the schnauzers from “Penigma”, where “does the media say it, does the leftyblog hierarchy chant it, and can we deliver it with enough unearned condescension” is the “standard”.

  5. Ironically on the very same day you wrote the piece, there were two polls, one published by WaPo/ABC and another separate AP poll. Both the AP and WaPo/ABC polls supplied results that would imply your lede was based on opinion rather than hard data.

    Did Emery really whine about Mitch not linking to a source? Really?

  6. By “certain audiences” I mean the “true Americans” and the “real American patriots” that comment, contribute and or read this blog. Are there others?

  7. Oh. I thought you were taking about my “standard of fact”.

    Just what are you getting at? I write this blog. I don’t control who comments, beyond moderating spam and, maybe ten times in ten years, banning the obnoxious.

    But when did the topic turn to “my audience?” Other than the fact that many of them are very smart, well-informed, and work in fields where ascertaining concrete reality is vital, I mean (Among the regulars I know of an MD, a couple of lawyers, three or four engineers, an accountant or two, a rocket scientist, and a guy who’s neither an astrophysicist nor a rocket scientist but works with both of ‘em pretty closely)?

    Anyway – what is it you’re trying to get at here?

  8. In public discourse, ‘truth’ is a slippery concept. It is nearly always contextual, hence the drive by people, especially people in politics, to control context.
    Suppose you belonged to a group of people who were commissioning a poll, and you knew that a poll of random adults was more likely to give you the results you preferred than a poll of registered voters.
    What kind of poll would you commission? What “truth” would this poll reveal?

  9. Before attempting a discussion on any topic of importance, Emery would be well served by learning what “irony” is. Clearly, he has no idea.

    And why are “true Americans” limited to only readers of SITD (Emery also provided an incorrect acronym for the blog)? It was the left (“It is unpatriotic to go so far into debt” – BHO) who constantly whines about its political opponents “lack of patriotism,” and then cries even harder when it perceives an attack on the patriotism of anyone on the left.

    At least Emery fits in well with the left.

  10. Terry’s comment is dead on.

    Although my point was that, multiple (well regarded?) pollsters kinda-sorta shot down (debunked?) Mr. Berg’s lede. And the data was not even close.

    PJKelly,
    I think of myself as a moderate. I have voted for more republican candidates than otherwise. Although I believe a moderate is considered to be a “RINO’ at SITD (thanks for the spell check).

    Last year I read a book on modern astronomy which had said that both Neptune and Pluto were predicted long before they had ever been seen because of peculiarities in the orbits of the other outer planets. It made me think that planets weren’t so very different from people. Seeing what happened around them was enough to tell you where they were and what they were.

  11. There are many definitions of moderate, Emery.
    I think one of them is a person who often agrees with a party but disdains the people who are in it.
    Such a person would think that conservatives are best represented by people like Pat Robertson and Glenn Beck, while liberals are best represented by people like Paul Krugman and Aaron Sorkin.

  12. Although my point was that, multiple (well regarded?) pollsters kinda-sorta shot down (debunked?) Mr. Berg’s lede.

    Further evidence that you came from “Penigma”; I list pollsters, you list pollsters; you say yours are rock solid and mine are “debunked” with no further evidence one way or the other.

    Sorry, Em. Not how it works.

  13. Not that far right, not nearly that far left.
    And that’s not to say those individuals you mention do at times make sense. In a “even a blind squirrel find finds an acorn once in a while” kind of a way.

  14. “In public discourse, ‘truth’ is a slippery concept.” I thought Terry made an astute observation.
    What he said….

  15. I was raised in Canada and now living in the US, I have been exposed to both sides of this cultural divide (Canada falls somewhere in the middle). Americans are frighteningly unable to laugh at themselves. I remember being at an engineering project outside of Newcastle (UK). A team of Americans (and me), mostly from South Carolina, were there to assist the Brits in a start-up. First of all, I frequently had to translate between deep South and Geordie. But the moment that captured the divide for me was when a South Carolina engineer arrived back from lunch 5 minutes late, and the Brits there asked whether he had been having it off with a sheep. I swear the South Carolinian reached for his gun before realizing he hadn’t been able to bring it with him. Americans find that form of humor totally foreign.

    I’ve always said that an American’s inability to look at himself or his peers and find humor in the faults is the reason why so many ‘American’ comedians and comic actors are actually from Canada. An American sees personal flaws as faults to be corrected. A Brit sees delightful idiosyncrasies to be celebrated (in a derogatory way, of course). Canadians, while terribly polite and friendly to strangers, engage in British-style insult humor amongst friends, and expect it of their entertainers.

    One side effect of this cultural difference: You can’t debate an American without having an argument. They don’t understand the difference. Everything is personal.

  16. Terry:
    The Republicans need to be a party that actively embraces policies that keep provide opportunities for the poor and social insurance (health, unemployment) for all while decreasing the amount of money flowing through Washington. They need a leader who will be out front promising a caring but limited federal government. That is a government which doesn’t want to closely manage your health spending, wants you and not your employer to make decisions about that spending, wants the market to help limit overspending, but will step in to make sure bad health doesn’t drive anyone to bankrupcy. Similarly there should be employment insurance which is largely self-financed, with a levy for the poor who need help most. It should be more flexible to help those who are self-employed or part time.

    Only a Republican party that has new and enticing ideas for comprehensive yet limited government is likely to succeed. If the party is just about tax cuts it will remain a minority. Fiscal austerity will be here for the next 20 years or more. There will be no more ‘tax cuts for free’ like those of 2001. The party must get behind real tax reform, simplification, perhaps a well-executed VAT. The days when promising tax cuts without explaining how to pay for them are long past.

    Now is the time to pull back on our military commitments worldwide, while remaining a strong voice for free trade. On immigration, anyone with the skills and money to buy the right to live and work in America should be allowed in. Provide a sensible way in for workers who have the right economic incentives, then eliminate the illegal immigrant economy that exists in the shadows today through strict enforcement with employers and at the border.

    There are plenty of smart, accomplished Republicans out there (moreso in state government than in congress). Limbaugh and the blowhards on Fox need to stop being the face of the party. The next successful leader will disdain the populists. I’m not at all certain that we can see that leader now, and I have strong doubts that the Republicans will put up a strong ticket in 2016, but the policy makers and ambitious young politicians need to start remaking the image of Republicans by presenting smart policies for limited government now.

  17. Pingback: An open letter » Cold Fury

  18. To be fair to Yanks, Em, most of our ancestors fought hard and sacrificed much to come to this country and escape places like Europe.

    Put another way, I’m told Ukrainians don’t laugh much at Russian comedy either.

  19. Emery-
    The inability to laugh at one’s self may be a class thing in the U.S. The working-class Minnesotans I grew up with appreciated a finely developed sense of irony, especially concerning the self. Engineers and administrators were another matter.

    The only people that think of Limbaugh and Fox News being the face of the GOP are liberals and some independents. You don’t see Limbaugh and Fox personalities quoted much on conservative blogs. On the other hand, it is not unusual at all to find links to The Daily Show and MMFA agitprop on Lefty blogs. Why aren’t Jon Stewart and David Brock considered the face of the Democrat party today?
    It is the liberal-left media that has made Limbaugh and Fox the face of the GOP.

  20. “I think of myself as a moderate. I have voted for more republican candidates than otherwise.”

    There it is. Anytime you get a lefty infestation on a comment thread, you can be sure one of ‘em is gonna pull that one out sooner or later.

    I don’t know what moonbat cave this hamster crawled out of, but two things are perfectly clear at this point…1) He *is* a moonbat and 2) you can’t believe a fricking thing he says.

    Case in point. Just so happens I live in South Carolina, and also happen to be around a lot of engineers (since I am one as well). I haven’t run across one that speaks “Deep South”, and of the few that have any discernible inflection at all, it’s quite subdued. In fact, even among “country folks” the Carolina inflection is probably the mildest of any Southern State…but somehow, Emery found himself in the midst of a passle of unintelligible, gun slingin’ Hillbilly engineers…in England. Yee Haw!

    BS, pal; you’re a liar…that’s harsh, but there’s just no way to sugar coat it.

    I’m just waiting to see Emery start listing all of the world famous people that live on his cul-de-sac that drop by to discuss matters of World Importance.

  21. Further evidence that you came from “Penigma”; I list pollsters, you list pollsters; you say yours are rock solid and mine are “debunked” with no further evidence one way or the other.

    Notice how Emory did not address the issue when called out on it, but changed subject. Shades of DogPileDooDoo?

    As for subject of change, I am a transplanted Canuck and I call BS on Emory’s observation. I have traveled far and wide across US and the world, and do not see a problem with American sense of humor. I have never had a gun pulled on me for a joke -no matter how rude or crude. And, my 11yo son and his buddies’ (who are all purebred Americans) favourite movie – Monty Python and The Holy Grail. So go stuff it – consider yourself debunked!

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