Appendix — The Biggest Liar
In The Biggest Liar, I collected all the Politifact ratings for the major candidates so people can track their favorite liar all the way through the election.
Obama came in at 48% True, but Politifact is biased against him I had to look at some of their claims to see if he didn’t deserve a higher rating. Since they have a rating “Half True,” what percentage of accuracy is Obama required to have so his statements are not rated as lies (Mostly False, False, and Pants on Fire). Here are a few examples:
- Like here, when Obama says “The economy, by every metric, is better than when I came into office.” He’s correct on the three most widely cited and important metrics. But they rate his claim “mostly false”, based on some other metrics which they themselves can’t even accurately determine. For example, on median household income they say he’s wrong and then add “depending on how you adjust these raw numbers… inflation-adjusted income per person may have gone up a bit, rather than shrinking.” Politifact says Obama is wrong but maybe he’s right, so his claim is “mostly false.” WTF?
- The infamous quote “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” was called the “Lie of the Year” by Politifact. Fact Check reported that the number of people whose plans were eliminated because they didn’t meet the law’s coverage standards was between 2.3 and 3.3 million people, so less than 3% of the insured population was affected. Furthermore, a study reported that only 1% of the people with canceled policies would pay more for a health insurance that is clearly better than what they had before. Obama’s claim is true for over 97% of the insured population, and of the affected people, only 1% will pay more for a better policy. And this qualifies for the “Lie of the Year”?
- Politifact even deconstructed Obama’s debate joke about Romney firing Big Bird (in response to Romney’s call to end all subsidies to PBS) and called it a “pants on fire” lie. Seriously? Who fact checks a joke?
- Politifact rated Obama’s statement in reaction to the mass killing at a Charleston, S.C. church as “mostly false.” Obama was commenting on the mass killing by a white supremacist in saying “This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.” Part of the statement has to do with the hate crime nature of the tragedy. Politifact does not supply info on their killings to indicate the cause (hate crimes, terrorist attack, insane killer).
Their “analysis” stated “the United States has more mass shootings — and more people cumulatively killed or injured — than the other 10 nations combined, partly because it has a much bigger population than all but China.” If you take the other nine countries, without China, their combined population is over 397 million people. Over the decade and a half studied, there were 23 incidents in the ten countries compared to 133 incidents in the U.S. Therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable for Obama to say “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.” (Unless Politifact cherry picks the numbers saying that the one shooting in a small country like Finland, means that their mass shooting fatalities per 100,000 people is higher than the U.S.). Without addressing the hate crime aspect of the other mass shootings they cited, Politifact has no business saying Obama was incorrect in his assertion.
- On the argument of the number of jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama was quoted as saying “Any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.”
The whole point of the argument for Keystone was that it would create thousands of permanent (not temporary) jobs. The key argument made by Obama is that after the construction finishes there would only be 50–100 permanent jobs, having no effect on the overall economy. Politifact quoted a study that said the annual employment would be approximately 3,900 jobs during construction and a total of 35 permanent jobs. Once again, they cherry pick the most unimportant detail (the number of temporary jobs) instead of the number of permanent jobs. Obama is absolutely correct that Keystone would do nothing for the U.S. job market. And yet they rate his statement as “false.”
I haven’t gone through a lot of Politifact’s judgments on Obama “lies” but these five examples are ridiculous enough that the President should clear the 50% truth standard.
My rating of Politifact’s accuracy in rating the President is “Mostly False.”