Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

11.06.12

Worst Fact Checks of 2012

And the winner is . . .

I have spent a fair amount of energy on this blog taking off against "Fact checkers" who confuse their opinions with facts.  But it hasn't been systematic.  Ben Domenech ranks the 10 worst fact checking moments of 2012:  

10. That thing you didn’t say isn’t true. Politifact cannot find a fact to rebut in this Crossroads ad regarding the likelihood of employer dumping into the health insurance exchanges, since it relies on numbers from the Congressional Budget Office (the CBO appears a great deal in these fact checks, so it’s a good thing it has never made a mistake or a miscalculation, and all of its predictions come true). So instead they invent “a novel new interpretation of the ad’s meaning” – one surprisingly absent from the ad itself – in order to judge it false.

9. That thing you said is true, but it doesn’t matter.   One of my personal favorites: Senior Pinocchio Manager Glenn Kessler admits that the CBO calculates the effect of Obamacare will be 800,000 workers dropping out of the workforce. But this doesn’t matter, you see, because Kessler describes 800,000 jobs as “basically a rounding error”. Kessler does this while simultaneously maintaining that the stimulus had a meaningful and positive effect on jobs – “some jobs were created, and many were saved.” Presumably the Washington Post’s headline had the jobs report shown an 800,000 increase would have been “JOBS INCREASE BASICALLY A ROUNDING ERROR.”  

Perhaps Democrats could come up with their own list.  But after a half hour spent clicking through the links, I can attest that Domenech's list of bizarre "fact checks" of Republicans is pretty egregious.  Indeed, the checked items often read like straightforward partisan journalism.  

As I've said before, I have no problem with the general idea of correcting the egregious misstatements that our politicians make.  I have a very big problem, however, with presenting that work as an inarguable "fact".