The hits just keep on coming. First, somebody at Politifact just learned a new word after reading Mark Twain’s autobiography.
In his 1906 autobiography Mark Twain wrote "figures often beguile me" in describing their persuasive ability to mislead.
John Robitaille, a 2010 Republican candidate for governor in Rhode Island, cited a beguiling statistic when he Tweeted: "Unemployment rate dropped in every state that elected a Republican gov. in 2010"
Politifact has labeled this “half-true.” How can this be half-true? Either every state that elected a Republican governor in 2010 had their unemployment rate drop or they didn’t. It’s either true or false.
Indeed the Breitbart blog, quoting an analysis done by Examiner.com -- a Denver-based media company that operates a network of local news websites -- says that in 2010, 17 states that had elected Republican governors had seen a drop in their unemployment rate since January 2011.
So, it’s true. How do we get “half-true?”
The website nods to the fact that the unemployment rate also dropped in seven out of eight other states that elected Democratic governors.
In fact, we also found that the unemployment rate has fallen in every state but one (New York) in the last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.’
So, in other words, despite the implication in Robitaille’s shorthand claim, there’s no apparent link between the party affiliation of the governor and a decline in the unemployment rate.
Left unexplained by the determiners of truth at Politifact is how exactly Robitaille was supposed to explain this (or why he should be required to) in the 140 characters afforded him in a tweet. Because Robitaille didn’t tweet out an 1,000 word article 140 characters at a time, he’s tarred with “half-true.”
The kicker is, according to Politifact’s own arbitrary definitions, it doesn’t merit a "half-true.”
HALF TRUE – The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
The statement is 100 percent accurate. According to their own definition, it should be “Mostly True.”
MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
Incompetence or malice? Or maybe both.