PolitiFact seems determined to demonstrate that they are completely stupid and useless. Consider the history of the whole “fact checking” industry. People looked around and noticed that there was a problem with reporting, which tended to just provide what both “sides” were saying in a conflict. So the fact checkers were going to get out there and make actual judgments. But they ran into the same problem that reporters suffered from: how could they be seen as objective, if they didn’t find both “sides” equally to blame for everything. So PolitiFact, along with every other major fact checking source, has bent over backwards to find false equivalence. This isn’t just done with nitpicking liberal claims, it also involves picking really minor liberal claims. Even still, conservatives hate the fact checkers, because even with all the false equivalence, they come off looking worse.
A good example of both fact checking problems was found at PolitiFact last week, Image of 9 White, Blond Women Shows “Amazing Diversity of Fox News Anchors.” Jamal Dajani put up the photo above on his Facebook page with the title, “The amazing diversity of FOX News anchors.” This goes along with the idea that Fox News really like blond women. Everyone knows this is true: Fox News is not terribly diverse, especially when it comes to women.
Now a good counterargument to this is that this is largely true for the entertainment industry generally. But what people are noting when they complain about Fox News is that the only women on the network who any normal person can name—Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, and Greta Van Susteren—all have blond hair. There is no question of that. And the title that Dajani provided for the photo collage was not, “Fox News only has blond haired anchors.” Also, it’s a joke, guys. So that is the second part of what PolitiFact does to be stupid and useless: pick an obscure statement from an obscure person and “study” it.
They also did the first thing: they nitpicked the claim. They also sort of proved that it was true. They listed all the anchors on Fox News and found that of the 26 women, 14 had blond hair and 12 did not. They made no mention of the fact that only about 25% of Americans have blond hair. And over half of the Fox News anchors have blond hair. But it gets worse, because that seems to be a requirement of PolitiFact articles.
The article goes on to point that while most of the anchors are white, they aren’t all. There’s Arthel Neville, daughter of Art Neville, who is African America. Well, yeah, I guess, she is. And Uma Pemmaraju is an Indian-American. But both women are no darker than a well tanned English woman—for example, Julie Banderas (half English, I think). Even by local news standards, Fox News‘ lineup is incredibly white and blond haired. They are, regardless, much more white and blond haired than the nation is.
In the end, PolitiFact found the claim “mostly false.” It said, “The Facebook image gives the strong impression that all female Fox News anchors and hosts look alike.” Well, as I said, it was a joke—an exaggeration that made a deeper point, that PolitiFact’s own reporting confirmed. But it does allow the company to put another one in the conservative column, “See: we go after liberals too!”
I am aware of times when PolitiFact has gone after silly conservative points too. But I’ve never seen one this silly. And crazy conservative conspiracy theories are often widely believed on the right. No one looking at that picture thought that all female Fox News hosts have blond hair. And even if they did think that, what does that have to do with politics? Was Jamal Dajani calling for the Labor Department to investigate Fox News for unfair hiring practices? No. I suspect this was just PolitiFact trying to make nice with Fox News that has been at war with it for years.
I can’t seem to find any time when I said anything nice about PolitiFact. I hate it when liberals use PolitiFact when it happens to get something right—which in fairness, they often do. But they get things wrong enough that it is best to never grant them legitimacy. If you want to use some of their research or argumentation: fine. But just because PolitiFact says something is true or false means absolutely nothing.