So cute: PolitiFact pretends to vette Fox News, fools a ton of lefties

So cute: PolitiFact pretends to vette Fox News, fools a ton of lefties

“In other words, a fancy review of hundreds of hours of video confirmed what many who watch Fox News with any regularity already know: Fox News lies. A lot. Like all the time.” [Jameson Parker]

The “study” from PunditFact (a subdivision of PolitiFact), which is not really a study, says no such thing. You do not have to rely on my word for that: PunditFact itself warns against using its figures “to draw broad conclusions,” e.g. that Fox News lies “like all the time.” … That is because the study is an exercise in drawing nonsensical conclusions from arbitrary data.

The most obvious problem — though certainly not the only problem, not even close — is selection bias: PolitiFact is a readership-driven online publication, and thus it exercises a great deal of discretion about which statements it chooses to evaluate and why. The most obvious factor is that it evaluates only statements that are disputed. Specifically, it evaluates only statements that are disputed and that its editors believe will be of some interest or benefit to its readers.

[You getting this?  PolitiFact only looked at statements it thought were disputable.  It claimed Fox was wrong about more than half of those.  So basically, the PolitiFact “study” doesn’t mean anything about anything. – Ed.]

PolitiFact’s kindergarten-level methodology here is to take the total number of statements it evaluates, tally up the “mostly false,” “false,” and “pants on fire” ratings, and then do a little division. Given the underlying selection issues, this amounts to nothing more than doing meaningless arithmetic on meaningless data. If PunditFact editor Aaron Sharockman spent more than 20 minutes on this so-called research, he should demand a refund from his university. (Given that he has a B.A. in journalism, he should demand a refund on general principles.)

By the same measure, approximately 100 percent of statements made by Paul Krugman evaluated in National Review are 1. mostly false; 2. false; 3. pants-on-fire; or, my own favorite designation, 4. wearing-full-Wayne-Newton-makeup-while-singing-“Danke Schoen”-at-4-a.m.-under-a-bridge-in-Cleveland crazy.

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