Games PolitiFact Plays

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on February 26, 2024

I could put up a post a day on fact-checker PolitiFact fact-checking poorly. Bryan White over at put up a post on their failure to properly fact-check an analogy just last week, and then compounded it by surprise consulting a bunch of partisan experts to validate their predictably lame ruling.

But it's this fact-check last week on New York State Sen. George Borrello that's been stuck in my craw for the last few days.

Politifact "Half True" ruling George Borrello "NYC will give $1,000 taxpayer-funded credit cards to migrants."

The PolitiFact post references this Twitter post by Borrello taking to task New York City Mayor Eric Adams for the "credit card" program and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for apparently attempting to loosen work requirements for illegal immigrants.

That, in turn, linked to a New York Post article headlined: "NYC launches $53M program to hand out pre-paid credit cards to migrant families."

So, there's your background. As you can see from the graphic above, Borrello earned a "Half True." What's PolitiFact's beef?

The main inaccuracy in Borrello’s post concerns the type of cards that are being used. As PolitiFact has reported, credit cards and debit cards are different.

The link there refers back to an earlier PolitiFact piece fact-checking similar Facebook claims that was ruled "Mostly False."

The problems with this, is that it's putting a lot of weight on word games. PolitiFact explains:

With a credit card, the money spent is fronted by the card’s issuer with the expectation that the amount will be paid back later. Debit cards, by contrast, offer a preloaded cash amount and cannot be used to spend beyond the preloaded amount.

Yes, which in theory makes $1,000 credit cards non-sensical. But everyone knows what Borrello's referring to here. No one refers to a credit card's credit limits this way. It's the same way you refer to a "Visa Gift Card" that you can buy in a store or on Amazon. Unlike the dark ages when debit cards first came out, it's difficult to find one nowadays that doesn't have a "Visa" or "Mastercard" logo on the front of it. Everyone understands what he's saying. No one is confused by this.

In the larger context, is the difference between saying "credit" and "debit" here worth a two notch ding on their Truth-O-Meter? It is if the logic is: One notch because "cr" and not "d"; and, one more notch because, Republican.



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February 2024



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