Just a reminder: I exercise selection bias in deciding which PolitiFact items to critique. By no means do I read all of them. I look at ones I think are likely to contain errors based on their subject matter. I tend not to have any difficulty finding errors, and I expect that if I looked at more of the items I'd find many more errors.
I don't have time for do a detailed critique of every PolitiFact item in which I find flaws. But sometimes I have to point out a significant mistake even if I don't do the full critique. That's what "PolitiFlub" items are for.
This item concerns a spectacular offense against the principle of charitable interpretation, committed by PolitiFact Wisconsin. PolitiFact took issue with Walker's description of his clash with Wisconsin's public sector unions:
He focused sharply on labor unions, which fought legislation by Walker and Republican lawmakers to curtail collective bargaining and force public workers to contribute more toward pensions and health care. That push, which became law, attracted massive and prolonged protests in Madison.What was the problem?
"I asked the unions to pay into their own health care insurance (just as their Wisconsin neighbors do) and they said I was being unreasonable," Walker’s letter said. "I requested that they contribute toward their own pensions (just as their Wisconsin neighbors do) and they screamed it was unfair."
In PolitiFact's eyes, Walker made it look like he was asking the unions to agree to the changes in pension and health care contributions:
(T)he portrayal of "asking" the unions rewrites history, leaving the misleading impression there was give and take with labor.Why is this a PolitiFlub? Isn't PolitiFact obviously correct?
Shame on you if you think so.
PolitiFact conveniently overlooks that "ask" and "request" and their permutations are routinely used where the associated behavior represents a demand.
"I ask that you all take your seats."
"With this tax hike we're simply asking the filthy stinkin' rich to pay their fair share."
Still think I'm kidding?
The principle of charitable interpretation must receive evenhanded application in fact checking to ensure fairness. Every subject, without exception, is entitled to charitable interpretation. Skipping the step according to whim or bias leads to the straw man fallacy and other errors.