Checking the Fact Checkers
Who checks the fact checkers?
A report by Politico this week, which you can read here, sort of hip-checks the fact checkers. KUT’s Emily Donahue sat down with Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas team.
The Politico article claims that PolitiFact’s self-appointed role as the final authority on the truth is a fierce debate among their colleagues in the news media and the public figures they cover. Something else in the article was what the author called a “half-true” statement: Everybody hates the fact checkers. Here was part of the exchange between Selby and Donahue:
When PolitiFact Texas debuted in early 2010, Rick Perry’s gubernatorial campaign–remember, he was running for reelection–sent us a statement that was headline something like, “Truth-o-Meter Broken.” They were reacting to a fact that we had just rated as false a Perry claim about Texas accounting for 70 percent of the jobs gained nationally between November 2007 and November 2008.
So the claim was that you made a mistake?
But you didn’t?
No. As we’ve written often since, this kind of jobs claim or boast compares only states that gained jobs in a period, in this case it was 14 in that year, 14 states only. That means you assuming that no jobs were created in the states with overall net job losses, which is not so ridiculous. At the time, a Texas Workforce Commission official told us that it would be accurate to say “Texas created most of the jobs that were gained in 14 states with net job gains.”
Selby also says PolitiFact saw something in a Mitt Romney statement at the October 18th GOP presidential debate that caught their eye:
Governor Perry wrote a newspaper saying he was open to amnesty for illegal immigrants. Here’s the skinny: Perry wrote the Dallas Morning News in 2001, saying he was open to President Bush’s expected amnesty proposal. Now Romney misleads, because his statement sort of suggests that Perry’s out there campaigning for amnesty or has been, which just isn’t so. In fact, we didn’t find any instance since 2001 of Perry even saying a ‘maybe’ to amnesty since then.
You can hear the interview by clicking the audio player above.