If They’re Moving Their Lips…

In what will surely be news to no one (no one in the reality-based community anyway), it turns out that Republicans make false statements at nearly three times the rate of Democrats! The results come from the esteemed fact-checking website Politifact (a must bookmark), which analyzes statements made by politicians from both parties for accuracy. The results fall along a spectrum, so some statements are more along the lines of ‘in-artful’ rather than ‘complete bullshit’ but there’s a fair amount of flat out lying too; $arah Palin and Michele Bachmann lead the pack, if that tells you anything.

Smart Politics did an analysis of the numbers and found… well, I’ll just let them explain themselves:

A Smart Politics content analysis of more than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011 finds that current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts.

In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged “false” or “pants on fire” over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent).


Republican statements were graded in the dreaded “false” and “pants on fire” categories 39 percent of the time, compared to just 12 percent for statements made by Democrats.

That means a supermajority of falsehoods documented by PolitiFact over the last year – 76 percent – were attributed to Republicans, with just 22 percent of such statements coming from Democrats.

There you have it. Case closed, right? But what’s interesting about the article is that Smart Politics (which presents itself as non-partisan) doesn’t focus on the Republican’s overwhelming mendacity but chooses to focus on Politifact’s selection bias. Now, if you are someone obsessed with numbers and statistics, than I can see how the question of how Politifact selects which statements to evaluate becomes interesting. The article makes the case that because of certain criteria the website favors Democrats over Republicans. Such criteria would include whether or not someone is an officeholder. As one of the first comment on the page makes clear, does that mean Politifact should not include $arah Palin’s verbal sewage even though her Twitter feed is basically a 140 character press release? Another criticism is that Politifact has no criteria for which statements to evaluate, so it picks on Republicans. Well, the fact of the matter is (as another commenter points out), Republicans seem to make the most outlandish claims imaginable (death panels, Obama is a Kenyan Muslim), so why wouldn’t they bear the brunt of the scrutiny?

In the end, Politifact simply chooses to evaluate those statement that garner the most attention (an assertion they admit). When Republicans stop making statements that cause most reasonable people to stop and say, “WTF!? Did they just say that on live TV?” then we can talk about equality. At this point, I’m not sure most Republicans could stop lying as a huge part of their strategy is predicated on a completely fact-free reality of their own devising. The right may complain but when one major political party has decided to ignore facts they don’t like as a matter of course, then that doesn’t bode well for their score on the Truth-o-meter.



One Response to “If They’re Moving Their Lips…”

  1. […] Rottenart Geoff rants about art and politics at anyone who will listen. « If They’re Moving Their Lips… […]

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