PolitiFact's liberal bias, yet again (Arizona law; Climategate)

PolitiFact this week judged statements about the Arizona immigration law and Climategate. Guess what side these fact-checkers chose? If you guessed “Progressive/Democrat,” you’re a winner!

On January 15th, I posted here “Austin American-Statesman debuts PolitiFact Texas (The Texas Truth-O-Meter).” PolitiFact started in the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, and Austin was the second leg of its national strategy. I wrote then: “I think PolitiFact is a Media-Matters-wolf dressed in non-partisan clothing. It’s fine in theory, but in practice, it’s been biased toward liberals, just like the newspapers that carry it.”

On April 15th, I posted here “PolitiFact Texas liberal bias revisited (FAIL).” My Texas Congressman, John Carter, had said that abortions would be covered under ObamaCare. PolitiFact rated this statement as “PANTS ON FIRE” because, of course, President Obama had issued a meaningless executive order on abortion. A Texas blog had pointed out: “However, PolitiFact then contends that the National Right to Life statement that ‘federal funds would subsidize coverage of elective abortions’ was false, in spite of the seeming contradictions in their findings.”

In PolitiFact’s defense, it has rated some statements from Democrats as “false.” These things happen. Jon Stewart this week praised Glenn Beck’s stance on Miranda warnings. PolitiFact doesn’t show its liberal bias 100% of the time.

Two PolitiFact ratings on “hot button” political issues this week, however, scream “liberal bias” and cannot be ignored.

The Sunday article in the Statesman newspaper added together two PolitiFact rulings that I’ll consider separately.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer statement on Arizona law was judged “Barely True”:

Late changes to the Arizona immigration law “lay to rest questions over the possibility of racial profiling.”
Jan Brewer on Friday, April 30th, 2010 in a news release
While the new phrasing on racial profiling seems straightforward — and while the new language will provide opponents of racial profiling a useful weapon in court — legal experts we spoke to said that it’s not “crystal clear and undeniable” that racial profiling will be impossible under the law.

We spoke to legal experts! Who we won’t name!

Ultimately, the late changes do bolster Brewer’s contention that the law prohibits racial profiling. But our legal experts say that it is far from the done deal that she suggests. There are simply too many legal loose ends to be settled in court to be able to say that the late changes to the law will “lay to rest questions over the possibility of racial profiling,” as Brewer put it. We rule Brewer’s statement Barely True.

Let’s use PolitiFact logic. If the ObamaCare bill doesn’t say anything about abortion, but if Obama issues a meaningless executive order, then ObamaCare doesn’t cover abortions. If the Arizona law specifically states that racial profiling is not to be used, if the Arizona governor specifically states that racial profiling is not to be used, the issue is “barely true.”

Can those Arizona Immigration Nazis arrest you if your lawn is a bit overgrown, or your dog barks too loudly? Just the PolitiFacts:

Under the Arizona immigration law, police are required to check immigration status if someone’s “lawn is overgrown” or if a dog is “barking too loudly.”
Kyrsten Sinema on Friday, April 30th, 2010 in an interview on MSNBC’s ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’
The expansion of the law to municipal ordinances gives police “virtual carte blanche to ask for documentation,” said Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, adjunct law professor at Cornell University.
And what might constitute “reasonable suspicion”?
Still, she’s correct that relatively minor violations could open the door to immigration questioning. So we rate her claim Mostly True.

OK, maybe if someone has five barking, vicious pit bulls in the house, that would cause suspicion. I’d put this at “Barely True.” But to PolitiFact, it’s “Mostly True.” If your lawn’s a little high, show me your papers!

What’s Climategate, says PolitiFact:

Says the EPA “outsourced the scientific basis for its greenhouse gas regulation to a scandal-plagued international organization that cannot be considered objective or trustworthy.”
Greg Abbott on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 in a press release
In December, PolitiFact rated False a statement by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, saying the hacked e-mails debunked the science behind climate change. At a hearing, Inhofe later asked Lisa Jackson, the EPA’s administrator, about the agency leaning on flawed science from the IPCC. Jackson disagreed the panel was discredited, according to video posted online by C-SPAN. “It’s important to understand that the IPCC is a body, that it follows impartial and open and objective assessments,” she said.

The state’s petition for reconsideration mentions the e-mails, noting that Phil Jones, director of the Anglia-based climate research center, was the lead author of the IPCC’s 2007 report’s “Summary for Policy Makers,” and his research is cited 39 times (in 21 chapters) in the panel’s report. The petition says the Anglia center is the primary provider of temperature readings used in the IPCC report.

So what?

So what? Phil Jones faked data. So what????

Bottom line: There’s a small bit of truth in Abbott’s claim, the part that the EPA is relying on outsiders. But his statement is misleading because he implies the EPA has shirked its duties when in fact it is relying on three groups that have synthesized thousands of scientific studies — almost certainly far more work than the EPA could ever do itself. And yes, the e-mails have raised questions about the work of a clutch of scientists, but they have not put a significant dent in conclusions reached by the IPCC.

We rate Abbott’s statement Barely True.

No dents in the IPCC conclusions? PolitiFact, are you blind?

Jeff Dunetz wrote a fine piece here on April 21st, “A MAJOR Legal Victory For Climate Truth.”

They take my recyling tomorrow. Time to put the Austin American-Statesman to good use.