In Charles Sykes new book, How the Right Lost Its Mind he claims that Politifact is biased against Republicans and often inaccurate:


Matt Shapiro, a data analyst for the Paradox Project, ran the numbers on PolitiFact; assigning a point value to the ratings 0 for True and 5 for “Pants on Fire,” Shapiro found that Democrats had an average rating of 1.8—somewhere between “Mostly True” and “Half True.” Republicans, on the other hand, had an average rating of 2.6, somewhere between “Half True” and “Mostly False.” Some of the numbers were skewed by Trump’s egregious track record of fabulism, but the pattern seemed to hold even when he was removed from the mix. The most frequent rating for a Republican who was not Donald Trump was still “mostly false,” and often employed its customary convoluted logics to reach many of the verdicts.8 “PolitiFact often rates statements that are largely true but come from GOP sources as ‘mostly false,’” Shapiro noted, “by focusing on sentence alterations, simple misstatements, fact-checking the wrong fact, and even taking a statement, rewording it, and fact-checking the re-worded statement instead of the original quoted statement.” Again, this cannot be attributed to the Trump effect alone. Shapiro noted that during the 2012 campaign PolitiFact awarded nineteen “Pants on Fire” ratings to Mitt Romney. He put this in some context: from 2007 to 2016 a grand total of twenty-five Democrats combined were assigned the “Pants on Fire” rating. “This seems to indicate Romney wasn’t just a liar, but an insane, raving liar, spewing malicious deceit at every possible opportunity,” wrote Shapiro. “In the mere two years he was in the spotlight as a Republican presidential nominee, Romney somehow managed to rival the falsehoods told by the entire party of Democrats over the course of a decade. Or it is possible that PolitiFact has a slant in their coverage.” In contrast, he noted that based on PolitiFact’s ratings, Hillary Clinton was “the single most honest politician to run for president in the last 10 years.”9

Is he correct? Is Politifact biased against Republicans? Or is it possible Republicans lie more?

  • 12
    I don't see a claim that PolitiFact is biased against Republicans. I see the author challenging the trustworthiness of PolitiFact and maybe a hint of accusation that they are pro Democrats, but nothing about them being biased against Republicans. Oct 31, 2017 at 14:48
  • 6
    This claim would have more credibility coming from a source that didn't have Sykes's long history of prezel-logic, defying reality and powerfully selective partisan filtering. I'd agree that PolitiFact can be unreliable and somewhat arbitrary in how they apply their standards, but it just as often defies reason and logic in the other direction, as well. The example given is more of caving to "bias" accusations from the Right, because his original statement, in its original context, is and was "true." Oct 31, 2017 at 15:21
  • 10
    The problem with bias is that it is extremely subjective in this day and age. Is politifact biased because it tends to give right-leaning figures harsher rulings, or are right-leaning figures more likely to distort facts? Does Donald Trump have a 49% False/Pants on Fire rating because Politifact hates him, or because he's a liar? I suspect that the answer that you come up with in your head says a lot about your personal political leanings.
    – DenisS
    Oct 31, 2017 at 20:24
  • 1
    @TheAsh On another note, I see two citations in that quote. Without an actual copy of the book, I cannot follow those citations back to their source. If I were to write an answer, those would be my first stop. Oct 31, 2017 at 21:44
  • 8
    Under the assumption that the truth is equally distributed among humans and across party lines, it certainly looks fishy. Unfortunately that assumption doesn't hold, and the claim that "fact checks are dishonest because they caught me lying more than the other guy" is dishonest by itself.
    – Peter
    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:53


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