Saturday, January 21, 2012

Piquing PolitiFact: Building a straw man with which to attack Mitt Romney?

A recent fact check of Mitt Romney has drawn criticism from two of the experts cited in the story, in addition to Politico and the Huffington Post (find summary and links at PolitiFact Bias).

I'm not doing many "Grading PolitiFact" posts because of some research projects involving PolitiFact, but I took time out to submit a fact check suggestion to PolitiFact:

Dear Truth-O-Meter, 

It is said PolitiFact rates those who make political claims. I ran across a political claim a moment ago that seems highly questionable and I'm wondering if you would please consider fact checking it. 

A political fact check operation presented Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as saying the following: 

The U.S. military is at risk of losing its "military superiority" because "our Navy is smaller than it's been since 1917. Our Air Force is smaller and older than any time since 1947." 

The quoted snippets are accurate enough, but please check the "because." Romney in the immediate context talked of administration proposals to cut military spending. Isn't that the chief reason Romney is suggesting as the risk to U.S. military superiority? 

Thank you oh-so-much, Truth-O-Meter.

I suspect that PolitiFact will triple down on its rating of Romney (either that or turtle and wait for the furor to die down), but in the unlikely event the editors decide to retract, a fact check of their own item might serve as a partial antidote to the high-handedness that pervades PolitiFact's typical response to criticism lately.

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