As we go into the 2016 campaign season we will be beset by Democrat apparatchiks in the media claiming to “fact check” statements. While they claim to provide dispassionate analysis of various campaign claims they actually provide spin to allow liberal Democrats to evade responsibility and to skewer conservatives as liar on even the most mundane matters.
Back in the 2012 campaign, trolling via fact checkers became such a time sump for moderators that we instituted a policy of banning anyone who quoted a media fact checker in a comment— in a non-ironic way. Not because we object to facts but the fact checking of Romney’s campaign had assumed the same integrity of a 9/11 Truther preaching from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The “fact” that broke the camel’s back was the brain child of the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler:
The Pinocchio Test
We cannot fault the RNC’s math, as the numbers add up. But at this point this figure doesn’t mean very much. It may simply a function of a coincidence of timing — a brief blip that could have little to do with “Obama’s job market.”
If trends hold up over the next few months, then the RNC might have a better case. But at this point we will give this statistic our rarely used label:
TRUE BUT FALSE
Now we’ve entered a more interesting phase of the battle. When fact check organizations look like their opinions are shaped by the organizations that fund them. This is already standard in the left-wing media — not saying it doesn’t exist on ourside — as exhibited by Buzzfeed pulling news stories critical of sponsors.
Last month, Sean Davis at The Federalist wrote a detailed analysis of the finances of the Clinton Foundation based on the information the Foundation had provided the IRS.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012,2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.
That’s right. Just 15 cents of every dollar went toward programmatic grants. The rest was used for whatever. Rush Limbaugh picked up on the article and said:
“The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation — 99 percent pass-through. The Clinton Family Foundation pass-through is 15 percent. The Federalist reports only 15 percent of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to actual charitable causes. The bulk of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to travel, salaries, and benefits. Sixty percent of all the money raised went to other expenses. In other words, folks, 85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary.”
PunditFact is a bastard (NTTAWWT) offshoot of PolitiFact. PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and funded by grant money from the Ford Foundation and Democracy Now, both are very liberal and Democracy Now is a Soros affiliated organization.
PunditFact, in a replay of Glenn Kessler, said this about the claim:
The claim contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False.
Sean Davis responds
Sean Davis is one of my favorite writers when it comes to bringing fire and sword to the left. His hilarious series of pop sccience fabulist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (see my posts on Sean’s work here | here) are the stuff of legend.
So what we have from [PunditFact author Louis] Jacobson is not a fact check, but an implication check. He likes the implications of agreeing with people on the Clinton payroll, so he trusts them, even when actual facts, history, and common sense contradict their assertions. Jacobson does not like the implications of facts that show the Clintons and their allies in a poor light, so he declares them to be false.
This is not journalism. This is not fact-checking. This is pathetic demagoguery, and a remarkably unimpressive display of it at that.
“Let me stop you at ‘while technically true,’” I told Jacobson via e-mail, “because that’s really the only standard that matters when judging whether something is true or not. Whether you happen to like a fact is irrelevant to whether it’s true. So when you tell me that the truth of a statement is not the primary factor in determining whether something is true [or] not (“I don’t expect it to be a full True”), it tells me that you have an agenda that’s separate from determining whether something is true. That’s disappointing.”
It’s also vintage PunditFact.
You really need to read the whole article. The line by line takedown of the PolitiFact article is little short of epic.
PunditFact’s undisclosed conflict of interest
Above we noted that PunditFact receives funding from the George Soros affiliated Democracy Now and from the Ford Foundation. As it so happens, the Ford Foundation is also heavily involved in funding the Clinton Foundation.
@seanmdav They totally disclosed that they are funded by Ford Foundation, a Clinton Foundation donor, right?
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) April 29, 2015
This might have no bearing on the decision of PunditFact to launch such a full bore, pettifogging and dishonest attack on Sean Davis’s work that resulted in them finding the facts were true but the “implication” made the truth false. But it would have been nice for them to let their readers know that PunditFact had a dog in the fight and that their reaction to this article certainly seems like they are protecting their revenue stream, either reflexively or because they have been told to.
The policy continues
It seems like we made a wise decision in 2012. If you are in the comments and you feel the need to quote Stormfront or any of the media “fact check” organizations, in a non-ironic manner, in order to make your point the result will not be a winning argument.