Democrats Win ‘Lie Of The Year?’ I Don’t Think So. PolitiFact Caves In To the Phony ‘Both Sides’ Meme

Check yourself, PolitiFact. I think you've got a three alarm fire in your pocket.

I suppose we should have seen it coming. PolitiFact.com has been struggling to maintain its credibility for some time now. The problem hasn’t actually been with PolitiFact itself but with the nature of what it reports on. It’s no secret that politicians exaggerate, distort or flat out lie. It’s what they do and we reward them for it by continuing to elect them. However, as we all know and Stephen Colbert so wonderfully put it, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” And therein lies the problem for PolitiFact; liberals, by and large, do not need to lie to sell their agenda. On the other hand, conservatives must lie to us in order to convince us that cigarette smoke doesn’t cause cancer, Fracking couldn’t possibly contaminate groundwater or cause earthquakes and Climate Change isn’t really happening. So when PolitiFact looks into the claims of conservatives and liberals they often find that conservatives are full of it.

A quick glance at PolitiFacts’ “Pants On Fire” section reveals that out of the first 100 rulings, less than 10 of them were awarded to liberals/Democrats. The rest went to conservatives/Republicans and a bunch of anonymous chain emails (most with a conservative bent). That’s quite a difference. Of course, this has led to cries of “BIAS!!!” from the Right  just like EVERY honest evaluation of their rhetoric does. The rest of the media has completely caved on this point and refuses to do its job by holding the Right accountable for its rank dishonesty or, even worse, promoting the ridiculous “both sides are just as bad” meme.


Now it looks like PolitiFact has done the same.

For the last two years, PolitiFact has awarded the not-so-coveted “Lie of the Year” award to the most outrageous falsehood . Unsurprisingly, conservatives won both times. Now, however, after another year overflowing with conservative bullshit, the “Lie of the Year” has found a new home with the Democratic Party.

“Republicans voted to end Medicare” is this years’ big winner.

Wait, what?! How can something that is 100% true be a lie? How does that even work?

Well, PolitiFact has been nitpicking this one to death for months. A quick refresher of the Ryan “Plan” via Huffington Post”

It calls for transforming Medicare from a program in which the government directly pays medical bills into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance plans. People 55 and over would remain in the current system, but younger workers would receive subsidies that would steadily lose value over time.

So people under 55 would be left at the mercy of health insurance companies whose costs would rise more rapidly than the amount of money future senior citizens would receive.

Some of PolitiFacts’ various rulings on the topic (emphasis mine):

1. It changes Medicare, dramatically, but does not eliminate it.

2. Those are questions of degree. Change of some kind is likely — so will that mean death to Medicare? Certainly not for millions of current retirees and baby boomers now over age 55. For everyone else, the Ryan plan might better be defined by using another political chestnut, namely, the end of “Medicare as we know it” — a cliche, perhaps, but one with enough qualification to keep the claim out of the hot seat. The Brown fund-raising pitch had no such qualification. No matter how often it’s said, this still remains true – that the unqualified end-of-Medicare statement is not accurate.

3. The Ryan plan would not end Medicare for anyone. The government would continue to help all older Americans pay for their medical bills. And the plan would not mean any change in costs of services for 92 percent of the people who now receive Medicare. So the blanket statement that it would raise the cost for seniors is misleading. The fact that 8 percent might see higher costs does not support the DCCC’s blanket statement that health care costs will rise for seniors. For younger Americans, there would still be a universal program that helps them pay for health care when they reach retirement age through payments to help buy private insurance. They would face higher out-of-pocket costs than those insured under the current plan. (PolitiFact left out the part where those payments would cover less and less of the bills until seniors with their fixed income are unable to afford the full health care they enjoy now)

4. MoveOn.org claimed that Ryan’s budget plan “abolishes Medicare within 10 years.” The group provided no evidence that backs the claim. To be sure, the plan would change Medicare, significantly, starting in 2022. But for those who turn 65 before then, there would be no changes at all, even after 2022. And for the others, Medicare would change — dramatically — but it would still exist.

This is what is what my father used to call “splitting hairs”. Politifacts stance is “Well, it will still cover everyone 55 and older but for everyone else it will become a completely different program with the same name. For those under 55, it will not keep up with rising medical costs the way Medicare currently does. Nor will it be a single payer system but instead be completely privatized. So Medicare is being fundamentally altered, but since liberals and Democrats don’t mention that current seniors are unaffected every time they discuss it and the name does stay the same, we’re going to call them liars”

You even set your cereal on fire with this one, PF.

Really? Here’s another way of looking at this via Steve Benen:

imagine someone owns a Ferrari. It’s expensive and drives beautifully, and the owner desperately wants to keep his car intact. Now imagine I took the car away, removed the metallic badge off the trunk that says “Ferrari,” I stuck it on a golf cart, and I handed the owner the keys.

“Where’s my Ferrari?” the owner would ask.

“It’s right here,” I’d respond. “This has four wheels, a steering wheel, and pedals, and it says ‘Ferrari’ right there on the back.”

By PolitiFact’s reasoning, I haven’t actually replaced the car — and if you disagree, you’re a pants-on-fire liar.

Not that PolitiFact was ever perfect but at least they tried to remain faithful to the truth. After this, though, Paul Krugman is right,

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

Way to go, guys.

Only children, simpletons and liars can look at liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and conclude that “both sides are the same.” Some of the media adheres to this fabrication because it’s better for their viewership to report on controversy instead of the facts. ABC, NBC, CNN and CBS come to mind. Other media outlets tremble in fear of being labeled “biased” despite knowing that they are reporting the truth. PolitiFact has apparently crumbled under the weight of this burden and that’s a loss for us all.

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