Accepting PolitiFact (or not)
To be honest, I sort of hoped that the PolitiFact brand would drift away after the election. Sometimes, I guess, these contrived media brands are like government departments — more or less permanent. In the interest of public service, I’ve created a new category for posts to help deepen and broaden the brand, after a fashion.
Part of the impetus for the category was also the proximate introduction to a new site called PolitiFact Bias and a post, on his own blog, by Rhode Island resident and Cornell law professor William Jacobson:
I have written about PolitiFact before, includine the clear bias shown by The Providence Journal in its application of ratings during the campaign by former Democratic Mayor David Cicilline against Republican John Loughlin in my home RI-01 District. I also have noted an analysis of PolitiFact bias against conservatives.
Two recent examples demonstrate that PolitiFact as a brand has serious problems.
Jacobson offers two instances in which PolitiFact, as I’ve complained before, fails to follow its own criteria for rating the validity of a statement from True to Pants on Fire. In the months between my complaint and Jacobson’s, I’ve actually been offered a bit of inside description of the PolitiFact process: Apparently, we can’t attribute all of the blame to the journalists who pen the pieces, because at least at the Providence Journal, there’s a PolitiFact board that rules on the statement and tasks the writers with explaining it.
I couldn’t get details on the makeup of the board, but the process sounds exactly as the skeptical public already suspected: The analyses back-fill to the conclusions.