Friday, August 10, 2012

Illustrating Why the Washington Post Fact Checker is Wrong, Even When He is Right

Fact Checker Just Does Not Understand What Fact Checking Is

This Forum long ago stopped using various so-called ‘Fact Checkers’ as any standard of judgment, largely because the fact checkers themselves stopped being fact checkers.  Instead of determining whether or not a statement by a politician or public figures was True or False, they have inserted themselves into a subjective mode.  For example they now determine if a statement is true, but misleading and hence only gets a grade of ‘partly true’ or ‘mostly true’.   Facts don’t operate this way, that’s why they are called facts.

A good illustration of the problem comes from the Washington Post Fact Checker.  He ruminates on the recent statements of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nv) and concludes that what Mr. Reid has been saying about Mitt Romney’s taxes is just not true.


Four Pinocchios for Harry Reid’s claim about Mitt Romney’s taxes

Posted by Glenn Kessler at 06:02 AM ET, 08/07/2012

We use a reasonable person standard here. Without seeing Romney’s taxes, we cannot definitively prove Reid  incorrect. But tax experts say his claim is highly improbable. Reid also has made no effort to explain why his unnamed source would be credible. So, in the absence of more information, it appears he has no basis to make his incendiary claim.

Fair enough, it is true that Mr. Reid says that this is what someone told him, but in most people’s opinion, including this one that is not enough to allow Mr. Reid to argue that the conclusion of the Fact Checker is not warranted. But the problem with the Fact Checker is that he now goes further.

 Moreover, Reid holds a position of great authority in the U.S. Congress.  He should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy when making claims about political opponents.

No, there should be no differentiation of standards based on position.  Any person should either tell the truth or not tell the truth, their position and stature is irrelevant.  The above statement is just a little piling on, something the Washington Post likes to do to Democrats in their unending quest to curry favor with the Right.  In doing so they are just plain wrong.

1 comment:

  1. The conversion from the "Fact Checker" from a, well, fact checker to an OpEd writer is sad to watch. It's immensely discouraging and dangerous when any "reputable" source can pass off subjectivity as objectivity.

    I agree that Reid "should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy." In a vacuum, for the Senate Majority Leader to say that an unnamed source told him that Romney did not pay taxes, and therefore needs to produce his tax returns, is embarrassing for our democracy. It is in the same realm as saying that Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore needs to produce his produce his birth certificate.

    Yet the Obama birthplace example just shows that Reid's statement does not arrive in a vacuum. How many utterly unsubstantiated and wildly inaccurate accusations have Republicans leveled at Obama and other Democrats in the last four years alone? Are Democrats supposed to just take it, like a baseball team whose players always get hit but never retaliates? Reid, apparently, thinks not.

    Soon the Fact Checker will have to give every political statement four Pinocchios.