Commentary by Mike Stenhouse, CEO
Earlier this year I commented on how Rhode Island’s political class was living in a land of make believe. Today, we add PolitiFact-RI, the Providence Journal’s allegedly non-biased fact-checking arm, as yet another defender of the failed status-quo that resides in this fantasy world.
Jennifer Parrish is a home childcare provider in Minnesota that our Center brought to Rhode Island in September to help raise awareness about the broken promises and dangers of unionization for her fellow providers here in the Ocean State. She conducted media interviews and series of ‘Child Care Union 101″ seminars across the state.
Prior to her visit, she published a passionate and thoughtful OpEd in the ProJo, which included the statement: “Six years after unionization, 20,000 fewer children in Illinois were being served by the Child Care and Development Fund program.”
In this past Sunday’s edition, PolitiFact, in analyzing her claim, first admits that Parrish’s statement is indeed accurate, only to then create its own fantasy assumptions, to finally arrive at the ruling that the statement is ‘mostly false’.
At a more general level, we can only guess why PolitiFact would betray journalistic integrity to invent such a torturous process to claim that a true statement is false. Maybe they believe that a charismatic and appealing figure, such as Jennifer Parrish, could pose a real problem if her story and the facts were to be seen as credible? Maybe, in order to defend the union status-quo, they felt someone needed to cut her off at the knees? Whatever their motive, PolitiFact created arguments out of thin air by putting ‘make believe’ words in her mouth, then claiming those fake words were false.
Here’s how they constructed their preposterous ruling:
First, start with a statement that is 96% true (actually 19,200 fewer children were served).
Second, make believe that Parrish intended this statement to apply only to children in home-based care, when in reality, knowing the facts, Parrish purposely meant this statement to apply to children in all kinds of childcare. She never qualified her statement in the way that PolitiFact fantasizes she did.
Third, make believe that Parrish blamed unionization as the reason for the decrease, when in reality she never made any such claim in her opinion piece. Another fantasy, created entirely by PolitiFact.
Fourth, rule that PolitiFact’s own make believe assertions are false.
Finally, apply that guilt to Parrish’s original ‘true’ statement, then rule that the statement now magically has become ‘mostly false’.
Presto, voila … an obviously biased, adverse ruling created entirely out of thin air.
One of the more blatant examples of media activism we have seen.
The obvious question is: who fact-checks the state’s official fact-checker?