PolitiFact is being considered by Facebook as one of the social network’s partners in “fact-checking” and determining fake news, but a report from 2013 pointed out that the site overwhelmingly focuses on tearing apart arguments made by Republicans, marking them as false over 25% more than Democrats.
Though Politico tried to spin the story as “Republicans lie more,” the analysis indicated that around 52% of Republican claims were deemed “mostly false”, “false”, or “pants on fire”, while just 24% of claims by Democrats published to the site were categorized the same.
“Fifty-two percent of Republican claims reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times fact-checking operation were rated ‘mostly false,’ ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire,’ versus just 24 percent of Democratic statements, according to George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs,” wrote Politico in 2013. “By the same token, 54 percent of Democratic statements were rated as ‘mostly true’ or ‘true,’ compared to just 18 percent of Republican statements.”
Though this seemed to indicate that PolitiFact tended to concentrate more on false claims made by Republicans and true claims by Democrats, editor of PolitiFact Bill Adair attempted to defend the site from the analysis.
“PolitiFact rates the factual accuracy of specific claims; we do not seek to measure which party tells more falsehoods,” he claimed. “The authors of this press release seem to have counted up a small number of our Truth-O-Meter ratings over a few months, and then drew their own conclusions.”
“We’ve rated more than 7,000 statements since we started in 2007. We are journalists, not social scientists,” continued Adair. “We select statements to fact-check based on our news judgment — whether a statement is timely, provocative, whether it’s been repeated and whether readers would wonder if it is true.”
The Weekly Standard, however, claimed that the results “suggest that PolitiFact has it out for Republicans,” citing other reports made on the fact-checking site’s content.
“Current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts,” declared one report by the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs, who went through 500 stories. “In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire’ over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent).”