ProJo’s Politiflackdom is built into the Model
I promise after this that I won’t hack at the ProJo’s politiflack (for at least today). Remembering that the ProJo’s model for Politifact came from the St. Petersburg Times, I note Mark Hemingway’s reminder that “‘Politifact’ is often more politics than facts“:
In 2009, Politifact won a Pulitzer prize, so people put a lot of a faith and credibility in what they say. However, rather than objectively weighing the facts, Politifact is hardly above employing highly-politicized context to render judgment. The latest example of this is their recent item on Rand Paul.
Here’s what Rand Paul said: “The average federal employee makes $120,000 a year. The average private employee makes $60,000 a year.”
Here are the facts: “Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.”
Here’s how Politifact rated Rand Paul’s statement: “False.”
Come again? The only way that Politifact can reach this conclusion is through a great deal of sophistry, which they lard on with abandon:
Since most people usually think about how much they, their spouses and their colleagues get paid in salary alone — not salary plus benefits — we think most people hearing this statement would assume that Paul means that the average federal employee gets paid a salary of $120,000. That’s simply not true.
So what they’re saying is not that what Paul said was literally false, but that according to how they think people will understand what he said, it’s not true.