Our goal at PolitiFact is to use the Truth-O-Meter to show the relative accuracy of a political claim. In this case, we rated it Mostly True because we felt that while the number was short of a majority, it was still a plurality. 40 percent of Americans consider themselves conservative, 35 percent moderate and 21 percent liberal. It wasn’t quite a majority, but was close.
PolitiFact chief Bill Adair • Responding to some aggressive criticism from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, over PolititFact’s rating of Marco Rubio’s claim that “a majority of Americans are conservatives.” The polling used by PolitiFact to score the claim proved that, in fact, only 40% of Americans self-identify as conservative — not a majority. However, they rated his claim “mostly true,” the stated justification being “conservatives are the largest ideological group, but they don’t cross the 50 percent threshold.” PolitiFact has been the subject of some derision lately, with the spotlight turned on them after their controversial 2011 “Lie Of The Year” selection, about which Bill Adair authored a rather prickly, underwhelming defense. Earlier this week, they got some criticism over debunking a claim from an episode of “Glee.” Frankly, PolitiFact’s ratings have always brought with them a measure of subjectivity, as you might find with any media arbiter; it’s their own lofty title that makes this an issue. Majorities aren’t pluralities. For a fact-checker, that’s just a dictionary search away. source(via • follow)
Adair [PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair] goes on for a while, but I don’t think he puts back many of the eggshell fragments. The issue, as everyone else sees it: “PolitiFact should verify actual facts, because God knows politicians make a lot of stuff up on the fly.” The issue as Adair sees it: “Shut up, critics of PolitiFact.
Personal opinion: It seems to us that the problem with this lie is that it’s a very much a matter of opinion, rather than one that can clearly be proven as a fact. As a result, that’s not very solid ground for a “Lie of the Year.” The danger that Politifact faces is one of being caught in the same kind of subjective muck that they were supposed to be above. They’re supposed to be an outlet that’s above this kind of echo chamber criticism, but instead they’re just getting sucked into it. Adair’s post on the matter today did him no favors. And we were largely willing to give them the benefit of the doubt two days ago.