Polifact Math

Marco Rubio says that a majority of America is conservative even though a national poll says that 40% of them are. Polifact Truth-o-meter reading: “Mostly True”.

Ron Paul says that a majority of America wants a return to the gold standard even though a national poll (Rasmussen) says that 44% of them do. Polifact Truth-o-meter reading: “False”

I guess a plurality is a majority if you’re Marco Rubio, but not Ron Paul. Perhaps Politifact can publish a list of politicians for whom the rules of simple arithmetic still apply, or maybe they should just close up shop since they have not a shred of credibility left.

(via MMFA and Jay Rosen)

Update: Jay Rosen has decoded why Polifact did this, and it’s simple: to piss off liberals.

61 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    Plurality, minority…why argue about semantics!


  2. 2
    danimal says:

    2 + 2 = 5

    I’ll stop calling them Orwellian when they stop using 1984 as a training manual.

  3. 3
    jibeaux says:

    44% of Americans want to return to the gold standard?

    I doubt 44% of Americans could explain what the gold standard is, and I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

  4. 4
    Rob says:

    I rate Politifact as “Mostly False”.

  5. 5
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    The scuttlebutt at ‘Natural Born’ type conservative types, is that Rubio does not qualify for POTUS. But that is based on what they will see as a ‘Foolish Consistency’ in their diatribes against Obama. My prediction is that they will
    somehow overlook their superficial need for consistency once Rubio shows interest.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Well, Ron Paul is persona non grata at RNC HQ.

    Marco Rubio, OTOH, is a golden boy there.

    So, Politifact grades accordingly, as their masters desire.

  7. 7
    Silver says:

    That’s what happens when you use Megan McArdle’s $20,000 pocket calculator…

  8. 8
    Lurking Canadian says:

    40% of the Senate is enough to prevent anything from being done in Washington. Since doing nothing is sufficient to conserve the status quo, that means that you only need 40% to be conservative to achieve your goals. Thus, “Mostly True”.

    On the other hand, a return to the gold standard, in addition to being bonehead stupid, would involve doing something, which requires >> 40% support. Thus, “False”.

    My explanation is utter bullshit, but still better than what was provided to Jay Rosen.

  9. 9
    GregB says:

    Can we rename it Politi-hack?

  10. 10
    burnspbesq says:

    Why are we still treating Politifact as though it should be taken seriously?

  11. 11
    Betty Cracker says:

    Maddow took them to the woodshed about this last night, and rightly so. PolitiFact just plain sucks, which is too bad, because it really would be useful to have an unbiased fact-checker out there parsing political speech. As you’ve demonstrated so succinctly, PolitiFact gets into trouble with their stupid “ratings.” If they’d just provide the facts and not “interpret,” they might be at least somewhat useful. But then they’d never get mentioned on Morning Joe or Fox ‘n Fiends…

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: They’re not even trying to hide it anymore are they? Fucking credibility, how do it work?

  13. 13
    Zifnab says:


    I doubt 44% of Americans could explain what the gold standard is, and I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

    There are a lot of things to bitch about in intellectual polls of Americans. I’m willing to give my neighbors a pass on not being perfectly familiar with a 100-year-old monetary policy that even veteran economists need to crack a book open to get the finer details of.

  14. 14
    toujoursdan says:

    Those 44% don’t have a clue what the gold standard is, or the fact that there isn’t enough gold in the world to prop up the dollar.

  15. 15
    Steve says:

    That’s just miserable.

  16. 16
    amk says:

    Rachel Maddow called out these buffoons … once again. Guess they’re beyond all the lurning.

  17. 17
    jibeaux says:

    @Zifnab: I am too. Which is why they should answer “don’t know/no opinion”. I mean, if you polled Americans on, say, how they thought the Crimean War was fought, would they have opinions about that too?

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Oh, I’m fully into the mocking and shaming phase with them.

    A pity they feel no shame.

  19. 19
    toujoursdan says:

    What would “conservative” even mean in such a scenario? I’m gay and voted Communist in two Canadian elections (mostly because the the mainstream candidates were wankers), but I would regard myself as conservative on some matters.

    Most progressives are conservative in that they want to maintain the services and initiatives and economic policies that worked between the 1940s-1970s. It’s the right-wing that wants to engage in social and economic re-engineering.

  20. 20
    beltane says:

    Kind of like the Maine caucuses. The Romney supporting Maine GOP declared a win for Romney without even bothering to tally the votes. They may as well dispense with polling and voting altogether since none of it matters any more. Reality is whatever they pull out of their asses on a given day.

  21. 21
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Zifnab: Wait till it’s explained to the American people that Fort Knox is pretty much empty and may get closed one day.

  22. 22
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @jibeaux: It was a Rasmussen poll.

  23. 23
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Alas who will watch the watchers?

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    If your goal is to drive the global economy off a cliff, Wile E. Coyote style, but without the subsequent lives at the bottom of the canyon, by all means, let’s go back on the gold standard and do so.

    After all, putting most of the planet into even worse misery than they’re experiencing now, and thus fomenting something along the lines of Paris in 1792, is precisely what these guys want, I’m sure.

  25. 25
    zach says:

    Politifact fact-checked Glee the other day, which I’m pretty sure cannot contain lies by definition.

  26. 26
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    also, too, who’s “our”, Kemosabe? Isn’t “Politifact” one guy with a website? kinda like Bill O’Donohue

  27. 27
    E.D. Kain says:

    Well now they get to piss off liberals and Paul supporters in one fell swoop. Good bank for the buck.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    Ron Paul says that a majority of America wants a return to the gold standard even though a national poll (Rasmussen) says that 44% of them do.

    They must have phrased the question to them as “Do you want free gold from the government?” Cool!

  29. 29
    28 Percent says:

    @Zifnab: The funniest part about the “gold standard” silliness to me is that that 44% is, if not the same people, at least tied politically to the Churchill worshippers. Churchill, while Chancellor of the Exchequer, returned GB to the Gold Standard (incidentally against the advice of Keynes) and the result was undeniably disastrous (unemployment, deflation, general strikes…) Churchill himself described it as the worst policy mistake he ever made – and this is from the guy who thought up Gallipolli.

    You would think that the two camps would compare notes or something, but maybe this is just one of those things that they see as a useful distraction: it gets the base riled, liberals can’t resist arguing about it, and the Republican elites don’t have to worry about it because they know they have no intention of making anything come of it.

  30. 30

    […] href This entry was posted in Uncategorized by cleek. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  31. 31
    JC says:

    I’ve actually always thought that Politifact was a long con. If you remember, there was spinsanity, and then another site, that did fact checking, before Politifact.

    But then Politifact came in, with some marketing, a good website, and some easy to like ‘ratings’. And in Tamba Bay Florida, no less. Not exactly a liberal hangout, right?

    I thought that, down the line, after getting good press, getting established, Politifact would start to skew, and distort, rather than report, on accuracy. And, they have done so.

  32. 32
    scav says:

    They really should poll and ask if the US should adopt the Platinum Standard — I hear the rewards are better on that program.

  33. 33
    kindness says:

    Hey! We can play this game too!

    Just imagine the possibilities. All you have to do is come up with any number of heinous allusions that some trains of thought/action that have some support immediately get vaulted to Majority Status. Be careful though. This can go both ways.

  34. 34
    Nylund says:

    The fear of being labeled with a “liberal bias” has created an atmosphere where any group attempting to maintain an aura of neutrality has to offset the “well-known” liberal bias of reality (as Colbert might put it) by creating an entirely ad-hoc set of rules where liberal truths are labeled as lies and conservative lies are labeled as truths just so the totals equal a nice 50/50 split.

    They could just save everyone a bunch of time and simply state, “no matter what lies or truths are told, we will conclude that both sides do it.”

    Or maybe they can just cut to the chase and simply start paying their employees to give hand jobs to David Broder’s corpse (equally with both the left and right hands of course). It amounts to about the same thing in the end.

  35. 35
    terraformer says:

    They created the “think tanks”, which exist solely to proffer narratives supportive of conservatives.

    Then they bought the media (well, most of the ones whom most Americans read/watch/listen to), as platforms on which to dispense the preferred narratives.

    Then they usurped the organizations that “fact-check” (well, the ones whom most Americans have heard of; e.g., Politifact), as platforms with which to (ironically) obfuscate or deliberately mislead when questions of truth and fact surface.

    All according to plan.

  36. 36
    smintheus says:

    A majority of Americans think PolitiFact has credibility.

    Well, not a majority majority, but 10% does. Same thing really.

  37. 37
    Democratic Nihilist, Keeper Of Party Purity says:

    Who’s funding this front for the Confederacy?

  38. 38
    slag says:

    @aimai: Exactly. Sixty percent of America identifies as something other than conservative. Politi”fact”‘s rank dishonesty here is fairly appalling.

  39. 39
    OzoneR says:


    2 + 2 = 5

    Mostly True because while 5 is not exactly what 2 + 2 equals, it does include the right answer, plus an extra 1.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Bullshitifact is now in the trolling business.

  42. 42
    Michael says:

    Politifact.com isn’t a fact-checking website that you can rely on for impartial analysis of political statements….but it’s close*.

    (*not intended to be a factual statement.)

  43. 43
    JGabriel says:

    So, non-credible factiness confirmer for the GOP makes another facty-check supporting GOP propaganda.

    The real question here isn’t why Politifact lies on behalf of the GOP — it’s a done deal, this is the direction (or misdirection) they’ve decided to follow.

    The only question is why, despite the inconsistencies he’s pointed out, Jay Rosen “still supports” Bill Adair:

    Some weirdness going on today with the Pulitzer Prize winning fact check site, Politifact. I know the editor Bill Adair, pretty well, and I support what he’s doing.

    C’mon, Professor Rosen. Politifact is no longer credible and doesn’t deserve your support.


  44. 44
    D0n Camillo says:

    It’s really hard to take fact checkers seriously when they won’t change their minds when confronted with new facts. That seems to be a particular shortcoming of journalists. They tend to double down and take criticism of their mistakes as proof of their “integrity”. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard reporters or editors say something along the lines of “Well, since both sides are complaining, we must be doing something right”.

    I work in IT. If I tried to say “Well, everybody things my work sucks, so I must be on the right track” I’d be out of a job in short order.

  45. 45
    Lex says:

    @Democratic Nihilist, Keeper Of Party Purity, asked:

    Who’s funding this front for the Confederacy?

    Good question with a depressing answer. From Politifact’s website:

    PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter …

    The Tampa Bay (formerly St. Petersburg) Times is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism think tank and training center. I’ve attended two training sessions there and also have served as a presenter at a third (off-site). To this one-time customer, Poynter appears, with a few exceptions, to be generally a well-run, thoughtful, public-spirited place and, overall, a force for good in U.S. journalism.

    However …

    Lately, they’ve been kind of screwing the pooch, both with respect to Politifact’s misstatements and inconsistencies and with the way they handled Jim Romenesko.

    After the Politifact Medicare “Lie of the Year” debacle, right before Christmas, I wrote Politifact’s Bill Adair, a guy whose work I’d long respected. I cc’d Poynter President Karen Dunlap, whom I’ve also met. And I said, basically, “I love you guys, but you’re violating the first rule of holes and damaging the Poynter brand.” I was hoping that they might hear and respond to someone with ties to Poynter in a way that they might not respond to some anonymous member of the general public. But I never heard a word back from either one of them.

  46. 46
    Nemesis says:

    Job #1 for the right:

    Put a thumb in the eye of libruls whenever possible.

    The more outrageous the claim, the bigger the lie, the bigger the faked story/issue, the better. They enjoy making up alternate-reality issues. Makes em soil themselves.

    This is what American politics has become…

  47. 47
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:


    A majority of Americans think PolitiFact has credibility.
    Well, not a majority majority, but 10% does. Same thing really.

    10% of Americans think Polifact should be locked in a cast-iron safe and sent over Niagra Falls.

    We’ll rate that: “mostly a good idea”.

  48. 48
    SFAW says:

    Rafer Janders, if you’re out there …

    This is way off-topic, but I realized our debate/argument the other day could have been settled more quickly by simply having Politifact assess our competing theses. Whichever one they called a lie, we would know was the truth, and vice versa.

    Sorry I didn’t think of this sooner, could have saved us a lot of time and energy.

  49. 49
    samson says:

    Have them fact check this:


    If this statement is true – and IT IS, Rubio’s statement CANNOT BE.

  50. 50
    Joseph Nobles says:

    I don’t know if it’s about pleasing their political masters as much as it is generating controversy, driving traffic to the site, and upping the rates for Internet advertisings.

    In other words, I don’t see any reason to assume political malfeasance when plain old venality suffices to explain. From now on, I’m calling them Polititroll instead of Politifact.

  51. 51
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @samson: No, under Polititroll’s reasoning, that statement is technically true but designed to deflect attention away from the “mostly true” “plurality majority of Americans are conservative” statement. So Polititroll would rate that 100% factual statement “Mostly False.”

  52. 52
    iLarynx says:

    John McCain and Sarah Palin won the presidential race in 2008!

    Mostly true, as per Politifuct “logic.”

  53. 53
    SFAW says:

    So Polititroll would rate that 100% factual statement “Mostly False.”

    Ah, but if you change it to “THE MAJORITY OF AMERICA (60%) IS NOT CONSERVATIVE AS WE KNOW IT“, that would probably allow Politi”fact” to rate it “Mostly True”.

    Not that they would, of course, but isn’t it pretty to think so?

  54. 54
    SFAW says:

    John McCain and Sarah Palin won the presidential race in 2008!

    Well, in fact, they did. Otherwise, why would the Kenyan Usurper be known as “The Kenyan Usurper”, right? Plus also too, the states that McCain and Palin won are the only ones where True Americans live. The rest are all inhabited by DFHes.

  55. 55
    Maus says:

    @burnspbesq: Yep. They’re “Fair and balanced”, and have to lie about liberals to get their false even-handedness.

  56. 56
    Bullsmith says:

    Wow, hard to blow a simple call more blatantly than this. WTF are they really thinking? The defense of the “mostly true” is ridiculous.

  57. 57
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Bingo. My extensive network of contacts in the straight journalism world tell me they haven’t had a meeting without a marketing hack present for 20 years.

  58. 58
    SFAW says:

    WTF are they really thinking?

    They’re thinking either:

    “We could be working for Rupert Murdoch some day, best not screw up our chances.”


    “What can we do TODAY to piss off the liberals?”

  59. 59
    Rafer Janders says:


    Damn it, you’re right.

    Darling, let’s never fight again. Le’ts just submit to Politifact and be done with it.

  60. 60
    SFAW says:

    You sweet-talkin’ sonnuvabitch, you know the way to a girl’s heart.

    ETA: Figuratively speaking, of course.

  61. 61
    Rafer Janders says:

    Of course, of course. Goes without saying.

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