Krugman Deems PolitiFact ‘Useless and Irrelevant’
Posted on Dec 20, 2011
The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.com is supposed to be a neutral referee in the mendacious political arena, but a decision to side with Republicans on 2011’s “Lie of the Year” has Paul Krugman pronouncing the fact-checking organization dead.
PolitiFact decided that Democrats were wrong to claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare. Here it explains:
Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.
Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”
But that’s not a lie, according to Steve Benen: “Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different—a voucher scheme. It would still be called ‘Medicare,’ but it wouldn’t be Medicare.”
In the previous two years, PolitiFact singled out Republican claims that the health care bill would create death panels and amounted to a government takeover of the health care industry. Krugman, in a post titled “Politifact, R.I.P.,” argues that the fact checkers are overly concerned about the fallout from picking Republican lies year after year: “[T]he people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear ‘balanced’—and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.”
(Hat tip to PoliticalWire.)
Illustration from a photo by Andrew Kuchling (CC-BY)