PolitiFact Labels GOP Candidate's Claim 'Mostly False' Despite Admitting It Was True


If you can’t trust the facts, you turn to the fact-checkers.

If you can’t trust the fact-checkers, where do you turn?

That’s the million-dollar question after PolitiFact labeled a GOP campaign ad “mostly false” despite admitting the ad’s claims were true.

John James, a Republican from Michigan, is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.

James released an attack ad against Peters claiming the Democrat was “invisible” and “known for doing nothing.”

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“They call him the invisible man, the politician known for doing nothing, Gary Peters,” the ad said.

“Nothing to prepare us for COVID. His responsibility. Nothing for our economy. Peters doesn’t show up for work. Skipped 84 percent of small-business hearings. Nothing to protect workers. Skipped 89 percent of hearings on China.

“But Peters has done one thing: got rich in public office. Doubled his wealth. Gary Peters: invisible for Michigan,” it concludes.

In fact-checking James’ ad, PolitiFact covered “James’ assertion that Peters is ‘known for doing nothing’ and that he ‘skipped 84% of small business hearings (and) skipped 89% of hearings on China.'”

After reaching out to Peters’ campaign, PolitiFact determined that the cited statistics were undisputed but that they didn’t tell the whole story.

“The percentages are accurate, but they are cherry-picked because they ignore multiple other measurements that indicate a high level of engagement by Peters in Washington, including recent influential committee assignments, a perfect record on floor votes, and high scores on effectiveness from independent academic analyses,” PolitiFact reported.

In conclusion, PolitiFact deemed the ad’s claims “mostly false.”

Here’s the problem: The basis of James’ ad was that Peters missed a certain percentage of committee meetings, and his absence makes him “invisible.”

It’s undisputed that Peters missed those meetings, and whether Peters’ absence makes him invisible is a matter of opinion.

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James’ campaign backed up that opinion with facts and statistics that PolitiFact admitted were accurate. Thus, by claiming the ad was “mostly false,” PolitiFact essentially fact-checked an opinion.

PolitiFact should have ended its fact check after it verified the statistics. Instead, PolitiFact did Peters’ work for him, defending him for missing meetings instead of leaving the response to his campaign.

Do you trust PolitiFact to fact-check both parties equally?

That is the problem with liberal-leaning “fact checks.”

They will develop a liberal counterargument to the opinion supported by the claim rather than focusing on the claim itself.

That is not a fact check; that’s political discourse.

There’s nothing wrong with political discourse, of course — as long as the one engaging in said discourse doesn’t hold itself out as an independent source of unbiased truth.

It’s disingenuous for PolitiFact to claim to “stand up for facts,” as the site claims while simultaneously engaging in opinion-based counterarguments to refute factual claims by Republicans.

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Erin is a freelance writer and attorney based in Colorado. She is a graduate of Truman State University and the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Erin is a freelance writer and attorney based in Colorado. She is a graduate of Truman State University and the University of Oklahoma College of Law.