There might not be a clearer example of a futile attempt at a sense of “balance” than what Politifact published last night.
In the State of the Union last night, President Obama made the following statement:
In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.
Naturally, this is the kind of statement that lends itself well to actual fact-checking. And it should be fact checked. So Politifact decided to do their thing.
Here’s the key paragraph from the fact-based portion of their report.
We checked Obama’s claim by using data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal agency responsible for compiling employment data. We found that the U.S. economy has seen 22 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, beginning in Feb. 2010. During that 22-month period, the number of jobs grew by almost 3.16 million, or about 143,000 per month.
Emphasis mine. So, you must be thinking, obviously Politifact will rate the president’s statement as True. Go back and look at the statement that they chose to fact check. Private sector job growth. Check. 22 months. Check. 3 million jobs check.
But wait, you say. The president added something about most jobs created since 2005. What did they find about that? Glad you asked, hypothetical reader!
In 2011, the number of private-sector jobs rose by about 1.83 million (if you count from the January amount to the December amount) or 1.92 million (if you count from December to December). Either way, the increase in 2011 represented the highest one-year total since 2005, when the number of private-sector jobs increased by either 2.22 million or 2.31 million, depending on the time period used.
Again, emphasis mine. So, going back to the quote from the SOTU, is there anything about the president’s statement that is not accurate? I can’t find anything. So… what did Politifact rate the president’s statement? True? Refreshingly True? Obviously True?
No, of course not. In their constant and futile attempt to curry favor from the people who will hate them no matter what they do, Politifact has rated the president’s above statement as “Half True.” What is their explanation?
Obama is correct on both counts when using private-sector job numbers. But he went too far when he implicitly credited his administration policies. So we rate the statement Half True.
So let’s all get on the same page here. Everything the president said is true. Verified fact. But, according to Politifact, he went too far when he implied that his policies might have deserved credit for the growth. But they didn’t include any of the president’s previous or subsequent remarks in the statement they were evaluating. Everything the president said in the statement they are supposedly fact-checking is verified fact. “Half true,” say the bravely balanced editors of Politifact. Why not just say, “Some disagree!”
It is this kind of nonsense that snarkologist and I would chat about that finally pushed us to create this blog. Politifact seeks to look balanced rather than objective. They hope to avoid the accusation of liberal bias from the conservatives who wish to lie with impunity and have been working the refs for the last 40 years.
Politifact is very proud of the fact that (so they claim) they won the Pulitzer Prize. I decided to do some fact checking to see if their claim of winning this coveted and prestigious journalistic prize is true. Here is what my investigation found:
In 2009, the Pulitzer Prize Committee did award their prize to the St. Petersburg Times (renamed Tampa Bay Times last year) Staff for their work on their Politifact feature. That statement is 100% true. (Or do some disagree? Probably!) However, I find that the Politifact editors have been insufferable douchebags about it ever since, so I rate their Pulitzer a Half Pulitzer.
Please correct all future references.