Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow once again took the knuckleheads at Politifact to task for their subpar fact checking. (Well, okay, their fact checking is probably best described as “horrendous” rather than “subpar.” Sadly, horrendous is par nowadays.)
(Stupidly unembeddable video here.)
Yesterday, in talking about the budget that Obama released I linked to a nearly identical ruling by Politifact on a Buddy Roemer statement. Roemer said that Obama had never submitted a budget, but Politifact found that no, Obama had submitted a budget every single year, and so they rated Roemer’s statement… half-true.
And then there was the Politifact stupidity over the president’s statements in the State of the Union. That was when I decided to finally award Politifact the Half Pulitzer they so deserve.
It’s pretty obvious by now that Politifact is engaging in this kind of behavior purposefully. They clearly believe that providing a false balance is more profitable than providing objective analysis. There’s an old saying among bad journalists (and certain centrist politicians) that, “we must be doing something right because both sides are angry with us.” This statement makes me want to neck-punch toddlers.
It is only a virtue to make “both sides” angry if what you are doing is right or what you are saying is true.
From a purely nihilistic, bottom-line point of view, you have to give Politifact credit for their strategy here. By finding this mythical point of balance where both sides are equally culpable in making untrue statements, they are able to appeal to a large group of people who seem to really want to believe that both sides suck.
I think it taps into a psychological need that many people have to not be a part of a large group, to consider themselves as independent of (and more importantly, above) party or ideological identification. But it can be hard to maintain this illusion if it starts to become clear that one side is constantly lying or doing awful things. The self-identified independent might find him- or herself leaning one way or the other, and that’s much less attractive than being above it all. Politifact gives these rugged individuals the balance they require to maintain their rogue non partisanship. (Just like everyone else.)
I don’t know. Just spitballing.