Politifact fact-checks (almost) everyone!

MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2013

Guess who the site doesn’t check: Politifact is willing to fact-check (almost) everyone!

In recent days and weeks, they’ve been willing to fact-check Barack Obama—and even Jimmy Carter! They’ve fact-checked Chief Justice Roberts and Republican senator Tom Coburn—and a little-known physics professor at the University of Rhode Island.

They’ve been willing to fact-check Jay Carney—and they’re even willing to fact-check “Bloggers.” For the most recent post in their “Bloggers” series, just scope this post right here.

That said, there’s one group Politifact won’t fact-check. Politifact will not fact-check the powerful figures at Fox.

Little-known state senators get fact-checked. Bill, Sean and Greta do not, even when they’re actively disinforming millions of voters, as they’ve done in lusty, undisguised fashion over the past several weeks.

Sean and Bill can scam you as much as they want. Politifact won’t go there.

Go ahead—scroll down the endless lists of Politifact’s daring fact-checks. You’ll see powerful public figures get checked—and people no one has heard of.

The one group you won’t see on their list is the powerful people at Fox—along with those at MSNBC and CNN.

At this point, it’s pretty obvious—Politifact doesn’t do “journalists.” Those people can bullshit as much as they want.

At Politifact, that doesn’t count.


  1. This is the best that Politifact can do. Pretty disappointing...


  2. Thanks for the link, hardindr. Politico's conclusion was

    Our ruling

    Carney said that Rice "talked about the possibility that al-Qaida might be involved, or other al-Qaida affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaida Libyan extremists (might be involved), which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down."

    It’s true that Rice offered those three scenarios, but Carney is wrong to say she didn’t play them down. Rice barely mentioned the potential role of al-Qaida or one of its affiliates, and she urged caution about jumping to conclusions on the one occasion in which she did.

    And while she did point to a role for "extremists," Rice made clear that the extremists didn’t pre-plan the attack, but instead hijacked a demonstration that was already under way.

    Both decisions played down, to one degree or another, each of the three scenarios she mentioned. We rate Carney’s claim Mostly False.

    1. Yup, hardindr's right, that does makes Politifact look quite bad.

      In the context of "scenarios" for what might have happened in Benghazi literally EVERY possibility could be said to have been "played down," according to Politico's broad framework. If EVERYTHING is played down, how much merit is there in saying some specific scenario was played down? What was played up?

      By Politico's standards, it's all the same, though they avoid drawing the obvious conclusion of their sad attempt at reasoning.

      And "Rice made clear that the extremists didn’t pre-plan the attack, but instead hijacked a demonstration that was already under way" is not a true conclusion at all but a fatuity: Only an idiot would think taking advantage of an opportunity rules out pre-planning.

      But what is absolutely certain is that far from being something Rice "made clear," this is just an unsupported conclusion by Politico. No whisper of evidence is provided to show Rice "made clear" there was no planning involved in this attack.

      Despicable journalism.

    2. Not this nonsense again.

      Even if David in Cal's position were ceded as correct purely for the sake of argument, SO WHAT? Especially in light of Mr. Somerby's post here, how does Rice's single appearance on what Sunday morning talk show weight against day after day and night after night of misinformation on Fox, especially? Or how about talk radio?

    3. mch,


      I don't see David making an argument here, he merely quotes (likely with tacit approval) the inanity produced by Politifact.

      Regardless, "Rice's single appearance" I guess has pretty huge weight, given the endless misquoting and false attribution surrounding it, repeated virtually without correction throughout the entire press.

      So while what happens on FOX and talk radio may also be worth discussion, there's no reason to think a single voice arguing against the asinine consensus "journalism" is nonsense.

      What you're doing, that's nonsense.

  3. how does Rice's single appearance on what Sunday morning talk show weight against day after day and night after night of misinformation on Fox, especially? Or how about talk radio?

    The difference is that Rice is a public servant. We pay her to serve us. She and all those in government owe it to us to be honest. OTOH Rush Limbaugh, MSNBC, Maureen Dowd, etc. owe us nothing. If we're foolish enough to believe them, it serves us right. That's presumably why PolitFact fact-checks politicians' statements but not media statements.

    1. They are fact-checking "bloggers," David. Bloggers. That's presumably why your own fact-challenged contribution is useless as usual.

  4. Obama must be stopped. Islam and Multikulti must be stopped. Read more on my blog (please click on my nickname).

  5. I have to call "bullshit" on this Howler. All you have to do is click the "Pundits" headline link on Politifact's site and you see a whole list of fact-check episodes of journalists and pundits. Fox figures Steve Doocy and Bill O'Reilly are right on the first page, along with MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.

    1. Anon 726,

      That rhetorical device was last heard failing on the playground. TDH said Politifact won't fact-check O'Reilly or Hannity. But they already did and were pretty harsh.

      It's ok. Everyone makes mistakes. It's less ok to go on the same rant against others like the Washington Post without acknowledging the mistake about Politifact.

    2. Oh you poor idiot. Try thinking it through.

      If Politifact *doesn't* fact check journalists, they have at least some excuse for ignoring the shit O'Reilly spins re "157 visits": "Hey we just don't do journalists!"

      But if they *do* in fact cover journalists, as you have pointed out, then what's the excuse for not doing it in this case?

      It's OK everyone makes mistakes. If the Howler erred, and Politifact *does* "do journalists", he has made an error of fact. It's an important error.

      But the error doesn't undermine the case that Politifact is failing -- it strengthens it. If Politifact *does* cover journalists who distort facts, it should do so in this case.

    3. Anon 735

      "If the Howler erred, and Politifact *does* "do journalists", he has made an error of fact."

      Frankly, if you can't figure out if the Howler erred, you shouldn't be calling other people idiots.

      If TDH wants to claim the Politifact has to fact-check all Fox pundits daily, then TDH can make that claim...but that's not what was on the table for debate.

    4. Slippery, Anon 142. So, what was on the table for debate? Whether Politifact should take up the 157 visits lie trumpeted on FOX. How are you doing on that debate?

    5. There's nothing slippery about it, but since your memory and ability to scroll up seem badly impaired, here's what was on the table for debate:

      "Sean and Bill can scam you as much as they want. Politifact won’t go there."

      And that claim is made numerous times in the post. It is just wrong. If TDH wants to claim that Bob Somerby should set Politifact's agenda for daily reporting, then it should be explicit about making that ridiculous claim--just like you are.

      Not to worry, surely our humble host will apologize to his readers and to Politifact for making such unwarranted claims.

    6. It's wrong, but that doesn't help Politifact. It makes Somerby look better in fact.

      If Politifact does do pundits, 5:33, why shouldn't they check FOX's 157?

      Is it too insignificant?

      Is expecting such a huge, deceptive canard to be challenged really tantamount to demanding that "Politifact has to fact-check all Fox pundits daily?"

      No, it's not.

      And there really is nothing else left of your "AHA SOMERBY WRONG" than that. It's a big yawn, champ.

    7. Well there nothing left, except that Somerby is still wrong and you're still trying to change the subject.

      Somerby said that Politifact doesn't fact-check O'Reilly or Hannity. But they have. Not every day. In fact, not often all. But they have fact-checked them and did not pull punches when they did.

      Look, it's not my fault Somerby didn't see the "pundits" tab on their website. Should we all pretend that it's not there?

    8. Nope, it's there all right.

      And what it shows is Somerby made a minor error.

      An error, incidentally, that shows shows he's right, thgere's no reason Politifact shouldn't fact checking the "157" of FOX.

      But they don't, and won't -- as Somerby also said.

      So your, point, again, is that Somerby was wrong about trivia. No one's pretending "it's not there."

      You're pretending the error makes Politifact look better. No, it makes them look worse. They DO fact check pundits.

      They just aren't doing it in this case. This case in which FOX are hugely misleading their many viewers. Somerby's not wrong about that. You are.

    9. Hooray! You figured out "if the Howler erred." That's step 1; step 2 is figure out whether Bob Somerby gets to set the daily reporting agenda for Politifact (and Kessler). That might take you a while, but I think you can do it.

      And, no, the error does not show that Somerby is right: being right shows that you are right. It's pretty simple when you get the hang of it.

      Have a nice day!

    10. Anon 735, by my lights your spirited defense of Somerby looks like the tribalism he so often criticizes. Face it, Somerby made a mistake. It doesn't mean he's a bad person, or even a bad blogger. I called "bullshit" on this particular Howler, but TDH is still my favorite blog, Bob Somerby is still my hero, and I don't disagree with what I think his larger point is, which is that in general Fox doesn't get "fact-checked" often enough. But here, he definitely made a mistake.

    11. Yep, a mistake.

      And one that, now that we know Politifact DOES fact-check journalists, points to Somerby's main charge being quite correct:

      Politifact are falling down on the job not evaluating the "157" BS from FOX.

      That is, unless you think asking Politifact to be responsible amounts to a demand "to set the daily reporting agenda for Politifact" -- a horseshit formulation designed to immunize Politifact from criticism and pointing to the poster being an irremediable douchebag -- something that was obvious from the start of course.

    12. Now, let's be fair here!!

      Somerby has been caught out by one dogged douchbag, er, commenter. Caught out in a Very Significant Error!

      To recap, Somerby made an error:

      Somerby implied Politifact should fact-check FOX on this "157 visits" claim. They should, but don't, because they have a great excuse: They don't do journalists.

      But Somerby made a Huge Momentous Error: Politifact DO fact-check journalists, sometimes!!!

      So Somerby was quite wrong about Politifact having a good excuse!!!

      Thank god for that determined douchebag, er, commenter.

      (I do laugh though, when I recall that it was only a week ago that Politifact's douchebag defenders were defending Politifact against Somerby, here in these commments, by saying "But they don't do pundits and journalists, Bob!")

    13. Anon 1217,

      Your comment is ridiculous (or you're a great mind-reader?), the post does not mention anything about the 157 claim. You're making stuff up.

    14. Anon 100,

      Get a grip, my friend. You seem to be confusing claims about Kessler and claims about Politifact.

      And, no, TDH wasn't caught out by one dogged commenter. Several commenters noticed it--hard not to notice it, since TDH helpfully provided a link to Politifact. I'm not a fan of Politifact; the nature of it is that it is gimmicky. They pick one statement to analyze and hope that it draws a lot of eyeballs. It's not comprehensive and there isn't any particular theme or focus. Still, why should Somerby's pet peeve be at the top of their list? I would prefer about 100 fact-checks on statements about NSA surveillance before they try to stamp out the 157 visits myth.

    15. The bottom line for you then is clear: Somerby must always be wrong.

      Whatever tendentious pose you must adopt to make that so, you are willing to contort yourself. (Somerby is insisting "Politifact has to fact-check all Fox pundits daily!" Somerby demands his pet peeve must be "at the top of Politifact's list!!")

      That bullshit manner of argumentation, relying upon misstatement of your opponent's case, is what has led some, quite rightly, to call you douchebag.

    16. Who is misstating an opponent's case? My case is only that Somerby was wrong in a particular assertion about Politifact.

      The other points are only in response to commenters claiming that even Somerby being wrong only shows how right he really is. Can't imagine how you would find that confusing.

      (Why do you think using the term "douchebag" lends any authority to your remarks?)

  6. Polifact's website has a tab for "pundits" right on the top menu bar. Here's an example of what you'll find there:



    Just as a bonus, here's Polifact on Gail Collins:


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  8. The real scandal is all the money and time republicans have wasted on a rhetorical fantasy that attacks the character of public servants for political gain. They are literally using those Americans who were killed in Benghazi as props in their self-serving hearings. It is disgusting and an embarrassment. The whole world is watching as the republican circus makes Americans appear to be ignorant and immature. Is it any wonder why European leaders are reticent to regain trust in American leaders who gleefully take advantage and deceive their so-called fellow Americans?. Europeans must conclude that if America's leaders willingly steal from it,what wouldn't they do to foreign strangers.

    1. Since the main benefit of foreign "trust in American leaders" is foreign leaders supporting our war-making, a little less "trust" is a very welcome side-effect of the GOP's vile behaviour.

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