After tipping their editorially opinionated hand by picking a set of biggest lies of the year for which readers might vote, the PolitiFact crew followed up with "Five Surprising 'True' ratings" (sic) (don't ask me what capitalization rules they're applying).
With our Lie of the Year, we focused on the biggest falsehoods of 2009. But we also want to highlight our findings at the other end of the Truth-O-Meter, the many items we determined were True. We're a skeptical bunch here at PolitiFact, so we chose five True ratings that surprised us.If admitting what stories surprised the staff fails to provide a window into their ideological topography then perhaps nothing will.
What could possibly surprise PolitiFact's scientifically minded group of media professionals?
1.) Preventive care does not save the government money. (David Brooks, Aug. 14, in an interview on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer)It's hard to imagine why that would be surprising, once one gets past the very surface fact that for individual cases a disease avoided saves the money used to treat that disease. Preventive care costs time and money, and where the disease is not present most types of preventive care costs end up being a total waste of money, in medical terms.
It's a common view among universal coverage advocates that preventive care saves money, of course. More than a coincidence?
2.) To give the economic stimulus plan some perspective, "if you started the day Jesus Christ was born and spent $1 million every day since then, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 trillion." (Mitch McConnell, Feb. 1, in appearance on CBS' Face the Nation)The math on this is fairly simple. Even taking the prevalence of mathematically-challenged journalists into account, my first thought was that it was hard for PolitiFact to believe simply because McConnell's statement implied that Jesus was a real person.
3.) "Switzerland and the Netherlands . . . cover all their citizens using private insurers, and they do so for much less cost." (Matt Miller, Sept. 8, in a Washington Post op-ed)It's amazing how many liberals think that universal coverage is the same thing as single-payer coverage. Did the PolitiFact staff really know so little about the variety of methods used to achieve universal coverage in Europe? Or were they simply surprised that private insurance over there could operate "for much less cost"? The latter would seem to indicate a dim view of the efficiencies of capitalism.
4.) "In some states, it is still legal to deny a woman coverage because she's been the victim of domestic violence." (Michelle Obama, Sept. 18, in a speech)That one seems easy to understand in one sense. If we're talking about insurance coverage (I haven't peeked), certain conditions could establish a case where the policyholder deliberately forces a claim on the insurer. Somewhat parallel to deliberately wrecking a car and expecting the insurance company to give you a new one.
After peeking, the issue is more clear. And PolitiFact's surprise is less surprising from the liberal point of view.
Insurance companies in some states may legally refuse to issue policies to those with a history of domestic violence victimhood. In a free market, that makes sense. Insurance companies should be expected to be able to accept customers based on risk. People from abusive relationships tend to stay in abusive relationships. The notion that an insurance company should be forced by law to ignore risk is, I think, characteristically liberal. But I do think that surprise is warranted regarding the degree to which some states have refrained from market interference--even for a conservative.
5.) Obama has admitted a cap-and-trade plan would cause electricity bills to "skyrocket." (Sarah Palin, Nov. 17, in her book Going Rogue)I just do not see the warrant for surprise*. We get our energy primarily from fossil fuels of the type that cap-and-trade would tax. The other types of energy cost more, at least for the foreseeable future. It's only pollyanna leftists who do not see the implications of cap-and-trade, I thought.
Three out of these five were prefigured in the conservative portion of the blogosphere. In other words, keeping abreast of conservative blogs might well have kept most of these from surprising left-leaning reporters.
PolitiFact has obligingly provided some of the best evidence to date of a clear liberal bias.
The matter of the asterisk
* My recollection suggested that the "skyrocket" fact check predated the "Going Rogue" set of fact-checks. PolitiFact checked Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) back during the summer on his quotation of Obama to the effect that energy bills would "necessarily skyrocket."
If PolitiFact was surprised, the surprise should have come near the point where Pence was ruled "True" on his "skyrocket" claim rather than on account of the subsequent and nearly identical claim from Sarah Palin.
I've presented my observation to PolitiFact at the PolitiFact FaceBook page.
Added "Piquing PolitiFact" tag.