That organizations like PolitiFact are left-wing advocacy groups masked as “independent fact checkers” is practically an open secret – and now there’s data to support what we’ve all noticed anecdotally.
According to Newsbusters:
A new study by the Media Research Center finds that four years ago, PolitiFact offered 52 fact checks with a “Truth-O-Meter” ruling of Donald Trump in his first 100 days (January 20 to April 30, 2017), while in the same period this year, PolitiFact offered just 13 fact checks of President Biden.
PolitiFact’s “Truth-O-Meter” evaluates claims on a range from “True” to “Pants on Fire.” Among all fact checks on the site, roughly a tenth are rated “true” and “pants on fire” respectively, while “mostly true,” “half true,” “mostly false,” and “false” ratings each account for roughly a fifth of all other ratings.
Critics will object that Trump is getting fact checked more often than Biden because he makes more false statements, so another metric to analyze would be how likely PolitiFact is to fact check Biden versus people making (generally negative) claims about Biden. According to the study:
Our review of the first 100 days shows 13 fact checks “of Biden,” and 106 fact checks “about Biden.” That’s an eight-to-one disparity. In other words, they’re much more sensitive about someone “lying” about Biden than they are about Biden lying. Many of the fact checks about Biden are about “Facebook Posts,” “Viral Images,” or “Tweets.” Those rulings often translate into content warnings. But there were two “Pants on Fire” rulings for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and one each for Fox News and for Tucker Carlson. Liz Cheney got the Flaming Pants for insisting that less than six percent of Biden’s infrastructure package is about infrastructure.
As for how PolitiFact evaluated fact checks of claims about Biden reveals heavy selection bias, showing them disproportionately choosing to “debunk” anti-Biden claims than confirm claims critical of him (a luxury not afforded to Trump).
The Fact Checks About Biden were overwhelmingly negative – 91 of 106 checks were “Mostly False” or worse, almost 86 percent. There were 24 “Pants on Fire” ratings for Biden critics, 45 “False” ratings, and 22 “Mostly False.” Ten were “Half True,” three were “Mostly True” and two were “True.”
Media Research Center analysts found only 37 fact checks about Biden appeared under PolitiFact’s “Fact Checks About Biden” heading. But PolitiFact lists every “Truth-O-Meter” rating on pages broken down by category, and reviewing those pages brought the total to 106.
The credibility of PolitiFacts “fact checks” is something we’ve criticized often before on this site. My past fact checks of their bogus fact checks can be found below:
July 22, 2018: Yes, PoltiFact Has a Liberal Bias
November 10, 2019: PolitiFact Was Just Caught Lying Again
April 7, 2020: Facebook Is Censoring Conservatives – Again
November 3, 2020: Facebook Censors Mark Levin With Bogus “Fact Checks”
February 9, 2021: PolitiFact Botches Fact Check on Maxine Waters Inciting Violence
February 22, 2021: Fraudulent Fact Checkers Play Defense for Cuomo
Matt Palumbo is the author of Dumb and Dumber: How Cuomo and de Blasio Ruined New York, Debunk This: Shattering Liberal Lies, and Spygate
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