Fact Checking Fact Checkers: Politifact Names Obamacare Critique "Lie of the Year"

The so-called “non-partisan” and “independent” fact checkers over at Politifact have named 2010’s “Lie of the year.” The winner was the phrase “A government takeover of healthcare” used by critics of the President’s healt care takeover.

A number of issues arise when you start to fact check the fact checkers.

They first blamed the quote on GOP strategist Frank Luntz, who Politifact claims is “a consultant famous for his phraseology.” The phrasing in the article has similar implications to when President Obama and others repeatedly claimed the existence of some vast right wing network thwarting their plans, even when they controlled Washington for 13 months. Politifact plays right into the notion of shadowy GOP figures weaving a tapestry of lies, et cetera.

In the actual fact-check portion they say, “‘Government takeover conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed … relies largely on the free market.” I’m not sure how a 2,000 plus page bill creating a mountain of new regulations, allowing less free activity, and unconstitutionally forcing people to buy a product “relies on the free market”. It seems the authors of the bill had a different end in mind.

In fact many provisions weren’t fully written and relied on the Health and Human Services Department to write post-passage. So while the phrase “death panels” or “government takeover” aren’t explicitly stated, we could end up in the same place through more regulation. But Politifact ignores that we now have the infrastructure in place for such European-style effect later on.

Politifact says that the new insurance “exchanges” (whose rules and very creation are government’s work) also doesn’t qualify as a government takeover.

Also troubling is the context for Politifact’s “truth -o- meter.” The government takeover line received the highest on the lie side of the scale, a “pants on fire.” Former Rep. Alan Grayson’s “Taliban Dan” ad, which was taken completely out of context, received a simple “lie” judgment. So, in Politifact’s eyes it was more honest to say Dan Webster was akin to the Taliban, than to say ObamaCare was a government takeover.

The Wall Street Journal identified the underlying problem when they wrote: “PolitiFact’s decree is part of a larger journalistic trend that seeks to recast all political debates as matters of lies, misinformation and “facts,” rather than differences of world view or principles.” In reality the criticism of ObamaCare was based on the stated goal and principle of Barack Obama as a candidate for single-payer, government-run healthcare.

Politifact seems to be at war with words. “Phraseology” happens on both sides. The Democrats didn’t have their “pants on fire” as judgment of the very title of the law, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” That Orwellian Newspeak didn’t warrant nary a mention. This “Politifiction” is further evidence that politics is more about right versus left than facts versus lies.


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