PunditFact/PolitiFact: Media Bias Strikes Again — At Me


politifact-half-trueWhen PunditFact — the new offspring from the folks at PolitiFact — contacted me, they wanted sources for “all of the claims” in the following statement I made Nov. 4 on CNN’s “Crossfire”:

“In 1900, at all three levels of government — federal, state and local — government took less than 10 percent of the American people’s money. Now, we’re talking about 35 percent, and when you add a dollar value to mandates, we’re talking almost 50 percent.”

What’s the problem? PunditFact rated the statement as “mostly false.” For added measure, PunditFact called the assertions “eye-popping.”

No, I was not “mostly false.” At worst, I was “mostly true.” Broken down, “all” of my “claims” consist of three assertions. They are:

1) On size of government in 1900: “Less than 10 percent.” PunditFact doesn’t bother to even mention their findings on this “claim” — no doubt because the number I gave is accurate. In essence, PunditFact admits I’m right.

2) On amount government now takes: “Now … 35 percent.” PunditFact admits I’m right.

3) On amount government takes at all levels when you “add a dollar value to mandates”: I said, “Almost 50 percent.” This requires judgment and assignment of value to things that are difficult to quantify. But there is a cost, even by the Elder-was-wrong experts PunditFact cited — and the cost is north of zero.

Yet PunditFact determined that since a) it is difficult to quantify the cost of mandates, and b) experts disagree, my entire statement — all three “eyepopping” assertions — are scored “mostly false”?! This is nonsense.

For added measure, PunditFact quoted one tax professor: “Mr. Elder’s statement is too vague to be useful for any purpose other than generating ‘hallelujahs!’ from the choir he is preaching to.” Nice touch.

So I challenged PunditFact on my radio show, and to PunditFact’s credit, the editor agreed to an interview. After our interview, I sent him the following letter:

“Thanks again for coming on. You’re a stand-up guy.

“I respectfully and formally request that you re-visit your rating — in hopes that I will get a fair one. I made good arguments this evening in our interview — and you knew it.

“My quote consisted of three factual assertions.

“You’ve admitted that the first two were correct, leaving us with the ‘cost’ of mandates as our only unresolved issue.

“Katie’s letter (Katie Sanders is the reporter who wrote the piece) spoke of fact checking ‘all’ my ‘claims.’

“In the ‘mostly false’ fact check, you call my assertions — plural — ‘eye-popping.’ Plural, of course, means you not only found my ‘almost 50 percent’ claim ‘eye-popping,’ but you had to have found at least one of my two other assertions ‘eye-popping,’ as well.

“Katie said ‘all,’ not ‘both.’ ‘All,’ to me, means three claims — not one, not two.

“Two of my ‘eye-popping claims’ were true, but I still get ‘mostly false.’

“You essentially said that it was the most ‘eye-popping’ of my claims — so you gave it more weight. That is also unfair.

“First, PunditFact switched the goal posts from being concerned about ‘all’ my assertions, to ignoring the two that check out.

“Second, why do you think the ‘almost 50 percent’ part was the most ‘eye popping’ assertion? I don’t. I’m willing to bet, as I said in our interview, that Katie was gob-smacked when she heard that in 1900 government took less than 10 percent and now it takes 35 percent! But this ‘eye-popping’ (and truthful) assertion checks out and gets ignored. Suddenly, you focus only on the ‘almost 50 percent’ part. Unfair.

“Finally, you say ‘you could find no expert’ to corroborate the 50 percent number. Really? I offered Grover Norquist’s organization, and it assigns an even higher number to the cost of mandates. You rejected that. Nobody at the American Enterprise Institute? Nobody at the libertarian Reason Foundation? Nobody at Heritage? Nobody at the Competitive Enterprise Institute?

“I won’t even bring up the lenient grade you gave Ed Schultz when he exaggerated the number of teachers Gov. Chris Christie supposedly ‘fired’ by over 30 percent — and still got a ‘half truth.’

“Soft on lefties, hard on conservatives?

“Please reconsider. I take my credibility quite seriously, and you’ve slammed my character and integrity. Stuff like this affects one’s stature and even career. You should have been more considerate and respectful.

“I treated you with courtesy and respect tonight. I hope you will do likewise.

“Larry.”

Media tells us that the lost and “schizophrenic” GOP cannot decide between the tea party and “more mainstream candidates.” But if liberal media bias didn’t exist, it wouldn’t matter whether they nominated Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz or New Jersey’s Christie. UCLA Professor Tim Groseclose, author of the media bias book “Left Turn,” says that in presidential elections, liberal media bias gives Dems an 8 to 10 point advantage out of the gate. Were the media truly “fair and balanced,” the voting electorate, writes Groseclose, would resemble red state Texas.

The old line goes, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own set of facts. Yet leftwing fact-checkers give us leftwing “facts.”

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  • ziggy zoggy

    Punditfact was obviously formed with the intent to discredit conservative pundits and downplay the lies and mistakes of left-wing pundits. If it were to outright deny all the lies and mistakes of lefties, it would expose its pretense of being a legitimate fact checking organization. By offering mild criticism of some lefties while denying as many facts from conservatives as possible, it hopes to seem like an authentic fact checking source. It’s just another source of deception, and calumny towards conservatives.

    I’m sure any courtesy and respect from Punditfact will always be selective.

    • Toa

      Yes sir- they are carrying on the “legacy” of their Media ancestors from the late ’60s – ’80s. I even quit reading my beloved old “MAD” magazine in the mid-’70s for exactly the reasons you laid out…though I didn’t know what to call it back then, it was becoming just another partisan Left-leaning megaphone instead of a collection of its hilarious trademark spoofery dished out without partiality.

      • Steve

        I honestly can’t wait until you ignorant baby boomers die out and stop voting

  • sendtheclunkerbacktochicago

    So Larry, why don’t you give these folks something to really dig their heals in and join the Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Lt. Mike Zullo criminal investigation team and help expose this Fraud in Chief (aka Liar in Chief) for all the fraudulent activity he has been involved in. These folks are the only folks who are willing to give up everything to expose the biggest fraud ever committed against this nation. Your silence and the silence of most of the Conservative blogs and media outlets is shameful to say the least. The heck with “to say the least” that silence is gutless and sickening and disgusting. Praise God for those brave patriots!

  • hrwolfe

    EXACTLY there is NO your truth/my truth there is only the facts and perspective.

  • James Keir Baughman

    Actually Larry, old friend, you are too kind. My own personal review of “Punditfacts” rates them as anti-American Communists. Oops! Was that politically incorrect? I always look forward to your facts and opinions. I trust them.

    • Lee McLaurin

      Not politically incorrect….just stupid.

  • Chezwick

    I was wondering if Pundifact made the requisite corrections?

    If not, Larry’s willingness to make an issue of it is now in the public domain…and Pundifact’s credibility is already undermined.

  • Donald J DaCosta

    Fact checkers? In name only. Word power. If these yokels are fact checkers then whatever lies they care to promote must be facts,,,,right? The liberals have proven themselves expert at one attribute…..Spin and wordmanship. O.K., two. Case in point (and there many): the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

  • slhancock

    I’d wager to say that if ObamaCare is not repealed, this figure will go far north of 50%. Take Europe, especially Germany, for example. Taxes, to cover all the social institutions and government expenses, are well over 50% for average every-day workers…not just the rich. They pay much more. When you think of the number of people NOT working now, who haven’t worked now in YEARS, those paying for the premiums will naturally be paying very high premiums in order for the system to work. Those out of work will still be on Medicaid, and I see no change for the better in that until we have true economic growth. Growth that puts these millions of people back into real jobs and without punishment for holding a job. Not to mention that we don’t even know yet the taxes that are coming due with the implementation of ObamaCare next year. We are likely awaiting real sticker shock when that does come into play!

  • S.L. Rachford’s Ire

    Great article on the duality of progressive sight and conservative reality. Thanks.

  • antioli

    Fret not. The people who count know the main talent of the Left is Myth making.
    But the Left very good at it. Note the amount of fictional literature they put out.
    They have great imaginations and quite a few make money off of their imagination. They live in a subjective world where truth is determined by ‘How does it make me feel’. They speak their truth with great conviction because it is feeling that drives opinion. Remember they insisted that Zimmerman was a white man. Using subjective logic they might also claim Jim Thorpe was a White man if it suited their mood. Next lesson: projection.

    • george

      If you are implying that this guy is spouting “unbiased truth” then you need to get your head checked…

  • Alex

    Even if the things this guy said are ALL true, it’s still putting a massively biased conservative spin on things. I can make similar claims that make republicans look bad such as “the economy does better with democrats in office.” This claim is NOT false but it is willfully ignorant of other important facts!
    How can anyone seriously attempt to compare pre-world war two’s economy with that of post-world war two?! It’s unbelievable the lengths people will go to to spread extremely biased “truths” and agenda serving misinformation. On both sides!