||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2013)|
|Slogan||Sorting out the truth in politics|
|Owner||Tampa Bay Times|
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PolitiFact.com is a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times, in which reporters and editors from the Times and affiliated media outlets "fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups..." They publish original statements and their evaluations on the PolitiFact.com website, and assign each a "Truth-O-Meter" rating. The ratings range from "True" for completely accurate statements to "Pants on Fire" (from the taunt "Liar, liar, pants on fire") for outright lies.
The site also includes an "Obameter", tracking President Barack Obama's performance with regard to his campaign promises, and a "GOP Pledge-O-Meter", which tracks promises made by House Republicans in their "Pledge to America". PolitiFact.com's local affiliates keep similar track of statements and figures of regional relevance, as evidenced by PolitiFact Tennessee's "Haslam-O-Meter" tracking Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's efforts.
PolitiFact has been both praised and criticized by independent observers, conservatives, and liberals alike. Conservative bias and liberal bias have been alleged, and criticisms have been made of attempts to fact-check statements that cannot be truly "fact-checked".
In January 2010, PolitiFact.com expanded to its second newspaper, the Cox Enterprises-owned Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Texas; the feature, called PolitiFact Texas, covers issues that are relevant to Texas and the Austin area.
In March 2010, the Times and its partner newspaper, The Miami Herald, launched PolitiFact Florida, which focuses on Florida issues. The Times and the Herald share resources on some stories that relate to Florida.
Since then, PolitiFact.com expanded to other papers, such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Providence Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Plain Dealer, Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Knoxville News Sentinel and The Oregonian.
"Lie of the Year" 
Since 2009, PolitiFact.com has declared one political statement from each year to be the "Lie of the Year".
In December 2009, they declared the Lie of the Year to be Sarah Palin's assertion that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 would lead to government "death panels" that dictated which types of patients would receive treatment.
In December 2010, PolitiFact.com dubbed the Lie of the Year to be the contention among some opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that it represented a "government takeover of healthcare". PolitiFact.com argued that this was not the case, since all health care and insurance would remain in the hands of private companies.
PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2011 was a statement by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that a 2011 budget proposal by Congressman Paul Ryan, entitled The Path to Prosperity and voted for overwhelmingly by Republicans in the House and Senate, meant that "Republicans voted to end Medicare." PolitiFact determined that, though the Republican plan would make significant changes to Medicare, it would not end it. PolitiFact had originally labeled nine similar statements as "false" or "pants on fire" since April 2011.
For 2012, PolitiFact chose the claim made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that President Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China" at the cost of American jobs. (The "Italians" in the quote was a reference to Fiat, who had purchased a majority share of Chrysler in 2011 after a U.S. government bailout of Chrysler.) PolitiFact had previously rated the claim "Pants on Fire" in October. PolitiFact's assessment quoted a Chrysler spokesman who had said, "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China."
PolitiFact.com was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009 for "its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters."
PolitiFact.com has faced criticisms and assertions of bias from political commentators across the political spectrum.
A Wall Street Journal editorial in December 2010 called PolitiFact "part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and 'facts,' rather than differences of world view or principles."
Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard criticized all fact-checking projects by news organizations, including PolitiFact, the Associated Press and the Washington Post, writing that they "aren’t about checking facts so much as they are about a rearguard action to keep inconvenient truths out of the conversation."
In December 2011, Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy wrote in the Huffington Post that the problem with fact-checking projects was "there are only a finite number of statements that can be subjected to thumbs-up/thumbs-down fact-checking." 
Matt Welch, in the February 2013 issue of Reason magazine, criticized PolitiFact and other media fact-checkers for focusing much more on statements by politicians about their opponents, rather than statements by politicians and government officials about their own policies, thus serving as "a check on the exercise of rhetoric" but not "a check on the exercise of power".
Analysis of PolitiFact's ratings 
University of Minnesota political science professor Eric Ostermeier did an analysis of 511 selected PolitiFact stories issued from January 2010 through January 2011. He said "PolitiFact has generally devoted an equal amount of time analyzing Republicans (191 statements, 50.4 percent) as they have Democrats (179 stories, 47.2 percent)..." Republican officeholders were considered by Politifact to have made substantially more "false" or "pants on fire" statements than their Democratic counterparts. Of 98 statements PolitiFact judged "false" or "pants on fire" from partisan political figures, 74 came from Republicans (76 percent) compared to 22 from Democrats (22 percent) during the selected period reviewed. Ostermeier concluded "By levying 23 Pants on Fire ratings to Republicans over the past year compared to just 4 to Democrats, it appears the sport of choice is game hunting - and the game is elephants." A writer with the left-leaning magazine The Nation argued that findings like this are a reflection of "fact-checkers simply doing their job... Republicans today just happen to be more egregiously wrong...." A writer with the right-leaning Human Events claimed that after looking at Politifact's work on a case by case basis a pattern emerged whereby Politifact critiqued straw man claims; that is, "dismissed the speaker’s claim, made up a different claim and checked that instead." The conservative magazine noted Politifact's use of language such as "[although the speaker] used [a specific] phrase... in his claim, [it] could fairly be interpreted to mean [something more general that is false]..." Human Events cited Bryan White's PolitiFactBias blog to state that "from the end of that partnership [with the Congressional Quarterly] to the end of 2011, the national PolitiFact operation has issued 119 Pants on Fire ratings for Republican or conservative claims, and only 13 for liberal or Democratic claims."
Criticism of specific fact checks 
Barack Obama's Saturday Night Live campaign promises 
In October 2009, PolitiFact.com fact-checked a skit on the sketch comedy television show Saturday Night Live that showed President Obama stating that he had not accomplished anything thus far; PolitiFact's appraisal was then reported on CNN. Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto called the fact-checking "a bizarre exercise", and added, "PolitiFact does not appear to have done the same for past "SNL" sketches spoofing Republican politicians ... It's as if CNN and the St. Petersburg Times are trying to reinforce the impression that they are in the tank for Obama."
Success of Recovery Act 
In February 2010, PolitiFact.com rated President Obama's statement that the Recovery Act had saved or created 2 million jobs in the United States as "half true", stating that the real figure was 1 million according to several independent studies. Economist Brian Riedl of the conservative Heritage Foundation responded that such a statement "belongs in an opinion editorial – not a fact check", since "there is no way to determine how the economy would have performed without a stimulus."
Halliburton use of tax money 
In July 2010, Huffington Post blogger Ayo Adeyeye criticized them for labelling a statement by Arianna Huffington that the company Halliburton was "defraud[ing] the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars" as half-true, instead of fully true.
"Death panels" 
Taranto of the Wall Street Journal said PolitiFact was "less seeker of truth than servant of power", after it ranked as "Lie of the Year" Sarah Palin's claim that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would lead to "death panels". A Wall Street Journal editorial criticized the ruling, saying that the legislation would "convert insurers into government contractors in the business of fulfilling political demands... All citizens will be required to pay into this system, regardless of their individual needs or preferences. Sounds like a government takeover to us."
Rachel Maddow and Wisconsin budget 
In February 2011, Rachel Maddow criticized PolitiFact for incorrectly stating that she denied that there was a budget shortfall in Wisconsin, providing a clip of herself explicitly stating that there was a budget shortfall on her own show.
Defense Department definitions of al-Qaeda and Taliban 
After Republican Ron Paul stated that in the U.S. Department of Defense "budget, they have changed the wording on the definition of al-Qaeda and Taliban. It's (now) anybody associated with (those) organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated – so that makes all Americans vulnerable. And now we know that American citizens are vulnerable to assassination", PolitiFact concluded that Paul's statements were "mostly false". Author, blogger and civil rights litigator Glenn Greenwald, in the politically progressive Salon.com, criticized PolitiFact's determination: "It undermines its own credibility when it purports to resolve subjective disputes of political opinion under the guise of objective expertise", he wrote, saying that the sources it cited in this particular analysis were "highly biased, ideologically rigid establishment advocates" and presented "as some kind of neutral expert-arbiters of fact."
Republicans voting to "end Medicare" 
In 2011, PolitiFact concluded that a statement by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that a budget proposal by Congressman Paul Ryan passed by Republicans in the House and Senate meant that "Republicans voted to end Medicare and charge seniors $12,000" was "pants on fire" false. This conclusion was criticized at the time by Talking Points Memo and left-wing blogs including the Daily Kos and Firedoglake. After it was named the Lie of the Year, the choice was criticized by commentators including Paul Krugman, who wrote that the DCCC statement was true and was chosen only because PolitiFact, having criticized conservatives in the two previous years, had "bent over backwards to appear 'balanced'"; Steve Benen, who called the decision "credibility-killing"; Jonathan Chait, who called PolitiFact a "shoddy, not-very-smart group"; and David Weigel. The characterization was also criticized by conservative commentators, such as Taranto and Ramesh Ponnuru, who called the DCCC statement incorrect but a matter of opinion, not a lie. PolitiFact noted that reader responses to their selection of this statement as the 2011 Lie of the Year were almost entirely negative, saying, "Of roughly 1,500 e-mails we received, nearly all criticized our choice." PolitiFact responded to the flood of comments, saying "We've read the critiques and see nothing that changes our findings. We stand by our story and our conclusion that the claim was the most significant falsehood of 2011. We made no judgments on the merits of the Ryan plan; we just said that the characterization by the Democrats was false", and noted that competitors Factcheck.org and FactChecker came to similar conclusions.
State of the Union 2012 
In January 2012, commentators such as Maddow and Daily Kos criticized PolitiFact for rating a statement in President Obama's State of the Union Address about private sector job growth as "Half True" despite acknowledging that the statement was factually correct. In response to the criticism, PolitiFact altered their rating to "Mostly True", which was criticized as still being inaccurate. In the same speech, Obama stated that consumption of imported liquid fuel had dropped below fifty percent; PolitiFact called this "Half True", since, despite its accuracy, it was falsely implying that this had happened due to Obama's actions. Maddow criticized this rating as well.
Conservatism in America 
On February 14, 2012, PolitiFact rated a statement by Senator Marco Rubio that the majority of Americans are conservative as "Mostly True", despite acknowledging that only 40% of Americans, not a majority, were conservative, according to a recent poll. Maddow criticized this rating, saying that PolitiFact was "a disaster" and should shut down its operations. Adair responded to this criticism by saying that 40% "wasn't quite a majority, but was close", and still represented a plurality. Politico and the Daily Kos both criticized this rebuttal, with the former saying that Adair had actually confirmed Maddow's point and the latter noting that in the past PolitiFact had made a clear distinction between plurality and majority when rating a similar statement by Congressman Ron Paul as "False". On February 24, PolitFact revised their rating of Rubio's statement to "Half True".
G.I. Bill as welfare 
That month, PolitiFact also rated a statement by MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell, that critics of the G.I. Bill had "called it welfare", as "Mostly False", because they found no evidence that the word "welfare" had ever been used. Mediaite commentator Tommy Christopher criticized this, saying that "criticism of the bill was unquestionably in the spirit of modern welfare politics, and then some." Christopher also noted that PolitiFact reviewed only a limited sample of the contemporary criticism of the G.I. Bill, and said that what they did review "not only supports the spirit of O’Donnell’s claim, it renders it an understatement."
Tennessee tax burden 
On March 16, 2012, Nashville Bureau Chief Tom Humphrey of the Knoxville News Sentinel wrote an article for PolitiFact Tennessee that gave a beer excise tax map graphic posted by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation a "False" rating for statements about Tennessee's tax burden on beer the graphic never claimed. The same day, the Tax Foundation's Joseph Henchman countered in a blog post on the organization's website that PolitiFact should have rated the statement a "True but not comprehensive" and claiming "their author doesn't understand the difference between excise taxes and other taxes, or that our map looks at just one tax and is not a comprehensive look at the entire tax system of a state". PolitiFact Tennessee published a revised ruling on March 20 rating the map "Half True", taking exception with the source of data used.
White House security screening of fetuses 
On May 8, 2012, PolitiFact rated a claim by the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee that the White House Visitors Office does security screening of the unborn babies of pregnant women visitors as "Mostly False". PolitiFact noted that the NRLC inaccurately described the policy, which was designed to accommodate babies expected to be born after registration but before the date of the White House tour. Rachel Maddow criticized PolitiFact for rating the claim "Mostly False" instead of "False" after PolitiFact agreed that the claim "wildly misconstrued" White House policy. Maddow remarked, "You can get something, quote, wildly wrong, and still only be mostly wrong about it? What does it take to get a false rating on PolitiFact? False, as in you got it wrong." She had previously criticized PolitiFact in recent months for its errors in fact-checking, and predicted the death of the organization as a credible resource.
Jeep manufacturing in China 
In January 2013, writer Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard criticized PolitiFact's ruling, writing that Romney's claim had turned out to be true. Hemingway cited the fact that Chrysler had announced that they would expand manufacturing of their low-end Jeep model, the Jeep Patriot, into China. In response, a Politifact editorial posted by Bill Adair responded that "No, it doesn’t." and pointed out that the Politifact judgement was in response to Romney's claim "that jobs in the United States were being moved to China, or perhaps that Jeep was moving its entire operations to China" and that Chrysler's announcement in 2013 still did not support this assertion since no jobs in America were being lost, and the "entire operation" as claimed by Romney was still not being moved to China. 
On May 5th, 2013, PolitFact rated a statement by retired tennis star and gay rights activist Martina Navratilova that there are 29 states in the United States in which a person can be fired for being gay as "Half True". On May 7, Rachel Maddow sharply criticized this rating, noting that PolitiFact's own assessment found that there were in fact 29 states that do not prohibit such discrimination by employers. She dismissed PolitiFact's arguments that some cities within those 29 states offer protection to gay employees and that some employers voluntarily do not discriminate against homosexuals as immaterial to what Navratilova actually said. Maddow concluded by staying, "The statement you were fact-checking is true, and until somebody figures out how to sue you in order to retrieve the meaning of the word fact from the dark and airless hole you have stuffed it into, Politifact, then no, it is not okay to just make this stuff up. You are truly terrible. Fact checking has to count for something, and Politifact, you are ruining it for everyone." The Daily Kos expressed similar objections, while also reiterating their criticism of some of PolitiFact's previous assessments..
See also 
- "Politifact.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- "PolitiFact.com". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- "Haslam-O-Meter: Tracking the promises of Bill Haslam". PolitiFact Tennessee. Retrieved March 19, 20121.
- "Pants on Fire, Political Mendacity and the Rise of Media Fact-Checkers". Annenberg Public Policy Center. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death panels', Angie Drobnic Holan, PolitiFact.com, December 18, 2009
- PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'A government takeover of health care', Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan, PolitiFact.com, December 16, 2010
- Lie of the Year 2011: 'Republicans voted to end Medicare', PolitiFact.com, 20 December, 2011
- "Democrats say Republicans voted to end Medicare and charge seniors $12,000". PolitiFact. April 20, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Holan, Angie Drobnic (December 12, 2012). "Lie of the Year: the Romney campaign's ad on Jeeps made in China". PolitiFact. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- Bunkley, Nick (July 21, 2011). "Government Sells Stake In Chrysler". The New York Times.
- "Mitt Romney says Obama's Chrysler deal undermined U.S. workers". PolitiFact. October 29, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Winners Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- PolitiFiction (editorial), The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2010
- Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Fact Checking’, Mark Hemingway, The Weekly Standard, Dec. 19, 2011
- PolitiFact and the Limits of Fact-Checking, Dan Kennedy, Huffington Post, December 13, 2011.
- Welch, Matt (February 2013). "The ‘Truth’ Hurts: How the fact-checking press gives the president a pass". Reason.
- "Selection Bias? PolitiFact Rates Republican Statements as False at 3 Times the Rate of Democrats"; Eric Ostermeier, Smart Politics blog, Feb 10, 2011
- Chris Mooney, "Reality Bites Republicans" The Nation 16 May 2012
- Jon Cassidy, "Politifact Bias: Does the GOP tell nine times more lies than the left? Really?" Human Events 30 August 2012
- Hey SNL! We've rated Obama's promises!, Angie Drobnic Holan, PolitiFact.com, October 5, 2009
- Don't Laugh, CNN Reports, James Taranto, Wall Street Journal "Best of the Web Today", October 6, 2009
- Obama says stimulus is responsible for 2 million jobs saved or created, PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter, February 17, 2010
- PolitiFact Declares Century-Long Economics Debate Over, Brian Riedl, The Foundry (Heritage Foundation blog), February 18, 2010
- PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter in Need of Tune-Up, Ayo Adeyeye, Huffington Post, July 8, 2010.
- 'Death Panels' Revisited, James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, The Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2011
- PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death panels'; PolitiFact.com; December 18, 2009
- Martel, Frances (February 24, 2011). "Rachel Maddow Blasts Politifact ‘Bullpucky’ Claiming Her WI Budget Report Was False". Mediaite. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Greenwald, Glenn (December 5, 2011). "PolitiFact and the scam of neutral expertise". Salon. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Says the Department of Defense changed its definitions of al-Qaeda and the Taliban making it so almost anybody can be loosely associated with the groups; PolitiFact; December 6, 2011
- Democrats say Republicans voted to end Medicare and charge seniors $12,000; PolitiFact; April 18, 2011
- Beutler, Brian (April 21, 2011). "PolitiFact Insists Republicans Don’t Want To End Medicare". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Lewison, Jed (April 21, 2011). "PolitiFact acknowledges GOP proposal would end Medicare 'as we know it'". Daily Kos. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Walker, Jon (April 21, 2011). "PolitiFact As We Know It: Medicare Means Whatever GOP Says It Means". Fire Dog Lake. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
- Krugman, Paul (December 20, 2011), "Politifact, R.I.P.", The New York Times, retrieved 2012-01-02
- PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself, Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, December 20, 2011
- The Trouble With Politifact, Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine Daily Intel blog, December 20, 2011
- Paul Ryan Conquers PolitiFact, David Weigel, Slate.com
- Bad-Faith Journalism, James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, January 3, 2012
- What ‘Fact Checkers’ Call Lies, I Call Politics, Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg News, December 26, 2011
- Mailbag: Lie of the Year 2011 Edition: 'Republicans voted to end Medicare', PolitiFact.com, 23 December, 2011
- Fact-checking in the Echo Chamber Nation; PolitiFact; December 22, 2011
- Alvarez, Alex (January 26, 2012). "Rachel Maddow To Fact-Checking Site PolitiFact: ‘You Are Fired’". Mediaite. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Clawson, Laura (January 25, 2012). "In continuing war on its own credibility, PolitiFact calls accurate Obama jobs statement 'half true'". Daily Kos. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
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- Humphrey, Tom (March 16, 2012). "Tax Foundation rankings show Tennessee beer taxes among lowest". PolitiFact Tennessee. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- Henchman, Joseph (March 16, 2012). "PolitiFact's "False" is False". Tax Foundation. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
- Humphrey, Tom (March 20, 2012). "Tax Foundation map shows Tennessee has low beer excise taxes". PolitiFact Tennessee. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
- "Anti-abortion group says Obama White House screens unborn babies". PolitiFact.com. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Vamburkar, Meenal (May 10, 2012). "Rachel Maddow Blasts PolitiFact: ‘What Does It Take To Get A False Rating?’". Mediaite. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Hemingway, Mark (January 18, 2013). "Whoops: PolitiFact's 'Lie of the Year' Turns Out to Be True". The Weekly Standard Blog.
- Shepardson, David (January 14, 2013). "Chrysler to build Jeeps in China". Detroit News.}
- "The Lie of the Year, still". Politifact. January 18th, 2013.
- Feldman, Josh (May 7th, 2013). "Maddow Rips Apart Politifact: ‘You Are Ruining’ Fact-Checking, ‘Truly Terrible’". Mediaite. Retrieved May 7th, 2013.
- Clawson, Laura (May 7th, 2013). "It's completely true that PolitiFact is full of crap on anti-gay discrimination". Daily Kos. Retrieved May 7th, 2013.