Opinion

PolitiFact Attempts To Fundraise After Claiming It Was ‘Targeted’ By Conservatives

PolitiFact asked readers for money in an email campaign Wednesday because it was allegedly being targeted by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

The facts tell a very different story.

In his show “Behind The Headlines,” Mark Hyman criticized PolitiFact’s handling of a statement made by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on government spending for Hurricane Sandy. Hyman’s segment is two minutes long and walks through instances of pork spending in the Sandy disaster relief bill.

PolitiFact defends its “Mostly False” rating by pointing out Ted Cruz’s claim that “Two-thirds of the (Sandy disaster relief) bill had nothing to do with Sandy” was very broad.

When PolitiFact reached out to Cruz, his office clarified that he was referring to non-emergency spending. The fact checkers ignored this and chose to rate Cruz’s broad and unspecified statement.

Cruz’s office sent us its breakout of the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act to support the assertion that “nearly 70 percent” was “used for non-emergency spending.”

…it’s important to note that Cruz said the bulk of the money had nothing to do with Sandy. That’s considerably stronger than saying the money went for “non-emergency spending.”

Hyman discusses the emergency funds as well, pointing out that “billions were not for emergency relief. Or for Sandy.” PolitiFact’s response to this observation from Hyman was simply, “That could be true, but that isn’t what Cruz claimed. He said the lion’s share of the money had no connection to Sandy.” But defining “no connection to Sandy” remains rather impossible because almost anything could be nebulously connected to the hurricane.

Another hole in PolitiFact’s plea for donations is its claim that Hyman is an executive at Sinclair. Hyman’s bio, however, says that he stepped down from the role in 2005. This fact alone demonstrates the weakness of PolitiFact’s “targeting” claim.

Hyman’s show is broadcasted on “dozens” of Sinclair stations (out of the over 173 the company owns). Suggesting that he speaks for Sinclair and that this is an effort to target PolitiFact is hardly demonstrable. Hyman could have been incorrect or incomplete in his criticism of PolitiFact, but that does not amount to a targeting effort lead by a large broadcasting group.

National Review — along with many other conservative groups including The Weekly Standard — has levied countless criticisms against PolitiFact. Instead of sending out fundraising emails, PolitiFact has often, if not always, ignored these criticisms. Why is this two-minute segment on a small show so important to the fact-checking organization that it felt the need to request donations off its back?

It seems PolitiFact sees the simple acts of disagreement and criticism as some grand targeting, a claim that it seems to have failed to check.

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