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Saturday, July 16, 2011

PolitiFact Plays Politics Juggling The Facts

It's been quite awhile since I last posted anything about Politifact, the often inconsistent and eye-roll inducing editorial opinion tool masquerading as a truth/fact authority. But a story by the Democurmudgeon blogster about Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) unwillingness to take a position on Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare caught my eye. Here, Politifact gives a campaign ad by her challenger (Shelly Moore) a "pants-on-fire" rating for claiming that Harsdorf supports Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to end Medicare.

PolitiFact Excerpt:
Democrats across the country are seeking political advantage by injecting Ryan and Medicare into local races.

But so what? What does what the Democrats are doing have anything to do with making a position known on a very important issue. Besides, how could it be a political advantage for Democrats when Politifact confidently writes, in the same article, that Ryan's proposal is something to be championed.

PolitiFact Excerpt:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed Ryan’s proposal and found that it will save the government money. It does so by asking future Medicare beneficiaries to pay more for insurance, PolitiFact National has reported.

The all-seeing-eye Politifact "reported" or deemed as fact? No matter, Politifact carries on even more defending Ryan's proposal in their editorial by parroting Ryans' made-up facts without challenge. So, who would deny supporting any part of that? Huh?

But let's look at the big picture here. We have a Republican state senator who is showing a huge gap in leadership ability by refusing to offer her position on a Republican proposal that deals with one of the biggest issues of our lifetime, an issue with huge state and local ramifications for every constituent in the country, refusing simply because she thinks Democrats will attempt to use the position against her. And Politifact uses that as evidence not to discover where Harsdorf stands, but to show that the reason for asking the question in the first place deserves closer inspection and harsh scrutiny.

Despite Harsdorf's steadfast refusal to make her position known on Ryan's proposal, her challenger claimed she supports Ryan's plan. Okay, that might not be totally accurate, but with Politifact's inability to prove Harsdorf for or against Ryan's proposal, Moore's campaign claim is at the minimum - at least half-true. It doesn't become "pants on fire" because somebody thinks the other side is playing politics. It can only become a "pants on fire" when they have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Harsdorf opposes Ryan's plan, OR as in this case, when an editorial opinion tool masquerading as a truth/fact authority plays politics.

Why Politifact would even consider ruling on this issue without discovering Hardorf's position is truly remarkable and a reflection of their illegitimacy.

Harsdorf owes her constituents a clear answer on that question before the election. Her cutting and running away reminds me of Ron Johnson when he said something like "you'll know where I really stand on the issues after I'm elected."

Another view: Conservative Leaning Politifact Continues to Muddy Controversial Republican Position on Medicare.

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