Pants on Fire: Politifact in Texas-Sized Blunder Defending Wendy Davis
Politifact Texas hit Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott May 6 with its worst rating--"pants on fire"--for claiming that Democrat rival Wendy Davis raised money for a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
That member was Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who hosted Davis at her annual "Ultimate Women's Power Lunch" fundraiser on May 5. Politifact's W. Gardner Selby slammed Abbott's claim despite acknowledging that Schakowsky "may have once participated in the Chicago chapter of the DSA and has been saluted by it."
Selby did not actually find evidence to disprove Abbott's claim. He just did a small bit of research, obtained a denial from the Democratic Socialists of America themselves, and declared Abbot's claim to be "unconfirmed, ridiculous."
However, the fact that Selby did not find confirmation does not mean confirmation does not exist.
The fact is that Schakowsky was indeed a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, as Breitbart News readers can confirm in the documents below, provided by Stanley Kurtz (who Selby quoted but chose to dismiss).
In one document, DSA News, from 1986, Schakowsky's name is listen in bold as a member running for Cook County Board. In the other, Chicago Socialist, Schakowsky herself pens an article about a political conference.
That is solid evidence that Schakowsky was a member of the DSA. It does not indicate whether she still is. So the claim by Abbott is "half true," at worst. It certainly is not "pants on fire" false.
Moreover, Schakowsky's office refused to respond to Selby's queries. Yet instead of drawing inferences against Schakowsky for her non-response, Politifact's researcher gave her the benefit of the doubt about her past and current membership.
Selby--who did not respond to requests for comment--goes even further, arguing that simply because Davis spoke at Schakowsky's fundraiser, that does not mean she actually raised money for Schakowsky. His reasoning: Davis was not the keynote speaker. It is hard to imagine a flimsier argument. Of course Davis helped raise money for Schakowsky, as did the other participants. (She may have collected a few checks for her own campaign, too.)
Abbott might have gone further, and noted that one of the more notorious past participants in Schakowsky's fundraiser was the late antisemitic journalist Helen Thomas. Or he could have noted the radical leftist ties of Schakowsky's husband, Robert Creamer, a convicted felon who worked for the Obama campaign.
In any case, Schakowsky was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. It's Politifact that has its pants on fire.
Selby did not respond to requests for comment.
The author ran against Schakowsky in 2010.