Over the past few years, corporate news media “fact checkers” have sprung up and spread like kudzu. The problem is, like kudzu, while the initial intention may have been good (in kudzu’s case, the goal was to use it as “a high-protein content cattle fodder and as a cover plant to prevent soil erosion”), in both case I’d argue that they’ve gone almost completely haywire, ended up doing more harm than good, and now have come to pose a major problem that needs to be solved.
Latest case in point when it comes to the increasing failure of the “fact checkers?” Try this bizarre, convoluted drivel by PolitiFact Virginia, in which they assign Terry McAuliffe a “false” rating for asserting, correctly, that “The Tea Party ticket says their top priority is a career-long mission to outlaw abortion in all cases and ban some common forms of birth control.” Let’s summarize the “reasoning” (using the word extremely loosely) here:
1. PolitiFact admits right up front that “There’s no doubt that the members of the GOP slate — gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson and attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain — are strongly opposed to abortion.” Right, and it would be helpful if PolitiFact detailed the years and years of rhetoric and, more importantly, actions, by Cuccinelli et al. to put in place draconian anti-abortion laws, constitutional amendments, etc. For instance, all of these guys support a “Personhood Amendment” to the Virginia constitution, which would effectively ban abortion and many (most?) forms of contraception. In addition, Obenshain proposed legislation that would have criminalized miscarriages. Cuccinelli bullied Virginia health authorities to essentially shut down women’s health clinics, which provide a wide variety of services, a small percentage of which involve abortion. Etc, etc. In short, this has been a multi-year, concerted, even relentless campaign by Cuccinelli et al. to restrict and/or ban abortion. More than any other single issue, this one has dominated these guys’ efforts as politicians. That’s an objective fact; check it out for yourself. But apparently that’s too difficult (or take a backbone?) for the paid (e.g., they do this for a LIVING!) “fact checkers” at PolitiFact to handle. #FAIL
2. So what is it that PolitiFact needs to verify McAuliffe’s (objectively correct) assertion? Apparently, not actions, but words – and specifically the wording that PolitiFact deems, in its infinite wisdom (actually, unbridled arrogance and intellectual shoddiness/laziness), to be required to prove McAuliffe’s statement accurate. Thus, in PolitiFact’s view, since Cuccinelli et al. have not literally said that their #1 priority going forward is to ban abortion, then McAuliffe’s statement must be false. Of course, that fails Logic 101, Logic 102, and every other Logic course known to humanity. It’s also just brain dead stupid. But whatever, these guys aren’t rocket scientists.
3. So what IS Ken Cuccinelli’s #1 goal if he’s elected governor? According to PolitiFact, we should all just take his claim at face value that “when it comes to identifying the most important issue facing voters this fall, Cuccinelli has said it’s the economy.” In other words, ignore everything Cuccinelli (and EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain) has said and done for his entire career, which you’d think would be the most accurate predictor of his future behavior, and instead take what he says during the heat of a campaign in which he’s trying to present a more “moderate” image to voters in order to try to win an election.
I mean, anyone with half a brain would quickly discount the latter and focus almost 100% on the former. But not PolitiFact, oh no. They do the exact opposite. This is either stone-cold stupid or fundamentally dishonest. Or both? Either way, in no way, shape or form should anyone take PolitiFact (at least not the Virginia division) seriously ever again on anything, as they descend into driveling incoherence and pitiful self parody. I know I won’t.