Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Politifact Disgraces Itself

A week ago the fact-checking web site, Politifact, investigated President Obama's statement:

The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked.
This is outright wrong. While it is possible to order a gun over the Internet, it is not delivered to you. It is delivered to a licensed gun dealer who does the background check that the President insists on. But, rather than give this the Pants-on-fire rating it deserves, they labeled it Mostly-true.

How did they come up with this rating? By using a very fluid definition of buying something over the Internet. As Politifact points out. it is possible to use a web site to find a private individual who has a gun the same as or similar to what you want to buy. But, these web sites do not let you order guns. They let you send a messages back and forth. In order to actually get your hands on a gun, the seller has to transfer it through a gun dealer (with background checks) or you have to arrange to meet the seller in person and buy the gun from him that way. To call this "buying a gun over the Internet" is ridiculous. If I buy something from Amazon, I expect it to be delivered to my house instead of my having to meet someone in a parking lot. It was completely misleading of President Obama to call that buying over the Internet and for Politifact to accept it.

The Washington Post fact-checker agreed with the majority of people and gave the President's statement two Pinocchios

Politifact was founded to be a non-partisan fact-checking site but rulings like these throw all of their other rulings into doubt, especially since many people look at the list of claims and ratings rather than the full reasoning behind the ratings.

I have been following Politifact for a long time and often (but not this time) they do a thorough and even-handed job of researching a question only to have the panel that awards the rating stretch a point in order to give it a left-slant.

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