Republicans target PolitiFact on bias allegations

Via the Washington Examiner comes word that Republican operatives across the land will be targeting state PolitiFact operations. The move draws inspiration from the massive document that the Republican Party of Virginia compiled against PolitiFact Virginia earlier this month, a document covered extensively in this space. From the Examiner’s story:

Spurred by the Republican Party’s documented claim that PolitiFact Virginia is biased, Republicans are dispatching truth squads nationwide to question “rulings” from other state PolitiFacts units and dig into the political leanings of reporters and editors of the Pulitzer Prize winning operation.

The inquest will reportedly target the PolitiFact-affiliated operations that are based in various newspapers around the country. There are 11 such PolitiFact partners, in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. The reporters behind those fact-checking operations, according to the Examiner, will get a thorough look-see from the investigators, who’ll check voter registrations and other relevant indicia that the PolitiFacters have left on their paths. PolitiFact Ohio, says the report, is the “next target.”

Huge disclaimer: The Examiner report rests on the thinnest of anonymous sourcing, raising questions as to just how organized and formidable this investigative effort will be.

That caveat aside, go nuts, investigators! Let’s see those documents and those prejudicial tweets — wrap them up in a pdf bow and blast them out. Meanwhile, a few pointers:

1) Background information is fun and all, but it’s the work product that matters. We need to see strongly reasoned refutations of PolitiFact rulings. That said:

2) Omissions are even more important. To really prove that PolitiFact is biased in favor of the left, the investigators need to expose numerous inaccurate statements by Democrats that PolitiFact has ignored.

3) Leave the weak stuff out. The Republican Party of Virginia completed a massive study of PolitiFact Virginia — 86 pages — but surely could have done without the not-terribly-convincing section about how the unit, run from the offices of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, schemes to save favorable Republican rulings for the low-Web-traffic weekends and trumpets unfavorable ones on peak news-consumption days.

The Examiner story furnishes a Champagne-popping pretext for PolitiFact. After all, the brand name has now been attacked furiously from the left — see Rachel Maddow — and furiously from the right. Now they can lay claim to centrism. “This is testament to the fact that we have disrupted the status quo,” says PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair. “We’re holding people accountable for their words and they don’t like it.”

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