Politifraud stepped in it again this week when it decided to intent-check a statement made by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.
The statement Politifraud wanted to check was this:
"Tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place," Rubio said.
For the record, Obama didn’t make that specific criticism in his speech, but here we’re focusing on the second half of Rubio’s statement about where the idea of the cuts originated.
After some history of how the sequester came into being, we get down to brass tacks.
Some of the most detailed reporting on sequestration is from Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and his book The Price of Politics. Woodward’s reporting shows clearly that defense sequestration was an idea that came out of Obama’s White House.
In a world with an honest fact-checker, this would rate Rubio’s statement “True.” In a world where you had an honest liberal fact-checker, Rubio’s statement would be rated “True, but…here’s some more context.”
Unfortunately, Politifraud resides in neither of those worlds and we get “Half True.” Why?
Rubio said the defense cuts known that are part of sequestration were Obama’s "idea in the first place."
That doesn’t tell the whole story -- particularly the fact that Obama does not favor these cuts. The White House proposed them as a means of driving the two sides to a compromise over the deficit, not as a real-world spending plan.
Still, the idea did originate with Obama’s team. We rate Rubio’s statement Half True.
Obama doesn’t favor these cuts? Four months ago he was willing to veto any bill passed to repeal them that did not meet his warped definition of balanced.
Obama has said previously that he does not want the cuts to occur, but he’s threatened to veto any bills that do away with them without a “balanced” solution to replace the cuts, which hit both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
I will note that Politifraud has been consistent in its dishonesty, having rated an identical statement by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the issue “Half True” last year. When Obama claims the sequestration “is not something I proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed,” he only gets a “Mostly False.”
It shouldn’t be so hard to rate a simple fact statement. And it wouldn’t if the partisan hacks at Politifraud were honest brokers. Instead of rating a fact statement, they’re determined to investigate intent and if they don’t like your intent, they’ll downgrade their rating.
Let’s imagine another alternate world for a second. Let’s say that in Obamaworld the sequestration idea is politically popular—certainly on the left and in the nation as a whole and enjoys 60%+ support in several major polls. At one of his frequent press conferences (this is an alternate reality, remember), Obama touts the sequester and says it was his idea and he opposes GOP efforts to undo it.
How would Politifraud rate the president’s statement? True? Half-true because a handful of Republicans originally voted for it?
This is the sort of mess you find yourself in when you get off facts and into intent. Unfortunately, it’s where Politifact and its editors live.
Addendum: I think that the algorithms at Google agree with me about labeling the Tampa Bay Times’ creature Politifraud. Take a look past the jump to find out why.
Yes, they placed an ad for the charity of another big fraud, Lance Armstrong, right next to their analysis.