…and dishonest. And not transparent. And thin-skinned. (Hat-tip to Politifactbias.com for the original observation that Politifact California is stupid. They can remove the question mark now.)
A couple weeks back, I took Politifraud’s California incarnation to task for their failure to correct Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s dishonest mischaracterization of one of their fact checks. I sent an email to the reporter and editor asking if they would be fact-checking Newsom’s lie that it is easier to buy a McDonald’s Happy Meal in the famously anti-Second Amendment state than it is to purchase a gun.
Neither could be bothered to respond to me.
After posting my critique, I did a belated search through their Twitter feed and saw that ignorance of Newsom’s tweet would not be a defense for why Politifraud hadn’t checked the new claim. Politifact California had actually re-tweeted the falsehood.
Politifact California can’t handle criticism
On Thursday night, Politifact California held an event with Angie Drobnic Holan from the National mothership and “Political Junkie” Ken Rudin at the California Museum in Sacramento.
Before the main event started, reporter Chris Nichols and Holan had a 10-minute chat on Facebook live. You can see it here.
I saw this as an opportunity to possibly get my question answered. So, just as it started, I posted a comment asking: “Chris, is it easier to buy a Happy Meal in California than it is to buy a gun?”
Nichols and Holan didn’t take questions or interact with the dozen or so people who were watching their little chat. But a couple hours later, someone from with access to the Politifact California Facebook account replied to me and said something to the effect of: “Matt, Chris answered that question in a fact-check that you can find here” with a link to the fact check that started all of this.
Now, you’ll note I said I wasn’t exactly sure of what Politifact said when they responded.
That’s because they’ve memory-holed the entire thing.
I responded to their link with a link of my own to my post accusing them of abetting Newsom’s big lie and challenging them to fact-check Newsom’s tweet.
Friday morning, it was all gone. The only comment remaining (and there might have been one or two other harmless comments from other people) was an emoji.
If you look at the Facebook post on a mobile device, you can see that something was once there.
Clicking on comments link play the video will allegedly show comments when they were posted during the video. You’ll see thumbs-up and other emojis go by, but you won’t see a comment until 3:24 into the broadcast. My comment was left in the first 30 seconds or so.
Clicking on the comments link on the web version of Facebook brings up…nothing.
Properly annoyed. I posted again. Something to the effect of: “Hacks. Why did you delete my question? Here’s the story Politifact California doesn’t want you to read.” With another link to the post in question.
A few hours later, not only was that comment memory-holed, but I was banned from commenting on Politifact California’s Facebook page. The option to comment doesn’t come up for me.
Politifact California is stupid
I asked my fellow Politifact critics if they had been treated similarly by the national organization.
— Bryan W. White (@ZebraFactCheck) August 20, 2016
Unlike the national organization, many of Politifraud California’s Facebook posts have only a handful of comments. They can’t count on critiques getting buried amid a ton of dross.
So they result to disappearing comments that are not offensive or vulgar, but merely critical—like a 16-year-old girl.
This is not how a “professional” news operation should operate. This is something I’d expect from Media Matters for America or Breitbart.com (now that they’ve crapped all over Andrew Breitbart’s legacy). But this isn’t how you respond to critics when you’re supposed to be a non-partisan, objective fact-checker.
But they aren’t, so why bother to fake it?