PolitiFacters respond to ‘weekend dump’ allegations

July 11, 2012

Third in a series of posts on the Republican Party of Virginia’s massive slam on PolitiFact Virginia.

As detailed in Part One of this extensive series, the Republican Party of Virginia is claiming that PolitiFact Virginia, which is run from the offices of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, discriminates against Republican politicians in the most insidious of manners: It times positive fact-checks of Republicans for the weekends, when people aren’t logged on, and “saves” the negative stuff on Republicans for high-traffic mid-week slots. That’s the claim.

Here’s a relevant excerpt from the 86-page slameroo report that the Republican Party of Virginia compiled on PolitiFact Virginia:

PolitiFact Issued Only Two “False” And One “Pants On Fire” Ruling On Republican Statements During The Weekend (Starting After 5 P.M. On Friday), Saving 37 “Mostly False,” “False,” “Pants On Fire,” And “Full Flop” Reports To Be Issued Between Monday And Thursday.

To which, the brain trust of PolitiFact Virginia has a response that can be summarized — and these are my words — along these lines: Hey guys, we work at a newspaper here.

Rick Thornton, the Times-Dispatch’s vice president of audience and content development, says: “We typically print in the newspaper PolitiFact rulings on Sunday and Monday . . . . We post our rulings online pretty much as soon as they’re done . . . . A number of our rulings on both sides are on Fridays because they’re being finished up on Friday for Sunday.”

Bill Adair, the force behind the national PolitiFact site, passes along this comment:

It’s ridiculous to suggest that any of our PolitiFact sites schedule publication of some items to get smaller audiences. Our websites are supported by advertisers, so it’s in our interest to get the BIGGEST audiences we can get.

There’s no conspiracy to our publishing schedule. We publish items when we’ve done enough research and they are ready for publication. Often, that occurs around a weekend because our partners like to showcase their work in the Sunday print editions — when they can get the largest readership.

The series so far:

Part One: Overview

Part Two: PolitiFact Virginia, Don’t Bother Ringing!

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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