PolitiFact RI Should be Sentenced to Journalistic Death
Once again twists truth to support pre-determined ruling
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity calls on the Providence Journal to issue a death sentence to its PolitFact RI kangaroo court.
Time after time, in defending the status quo, the so-called “Truth-o-meter” has used tortuously twisted logic and intellectually dishonest rationale as evidence to support what are obviously pre-determined, biased rulings.
In challenging the corrupt, status quo politics in RI, our Center recently issued the following statement about the burgeoning HPV vaccine mandate debate:
“Rhode Island will become just the second state to mandate the vaccine … and the only state to do so by regulatory fiat, without public debate, and without consideration from the elected representatives of the people.”
In ruling that our Center’s statement was only “Half True”, PolitiFact-RI not only continued its pattern of seeking to find fault with accurate and honest statements, but one of Politifact’s twisted arguments was that a “requirement” is not a “mandate”. In its zeal to condemn our Center, it may not have been clear to the prosecutor-judge-and-jury-all-in-one writers that, PolitiFact’s ruling contradicted its own newspaper headlines.
On July 29, the day before the Center released its statement, the Providence Journal ran this headline at the very top of its front page: “Rhode Island to mandate HPV vaccine for 7th graders.” The article itself used the word “mandatory” five times.
Further, in reaching its farcical ruling, PolitiFact purposely attempted to deceive our Center. In its initial inquiry to the Center, PolitFact asked:
“We are asking you to provide evidence to support this statement. There are two elements. First, that Rhode Island is the only state to mandate the vaccine. And second, that no other state has mandated the vaccine in the particular way that you describe.”
As the reader can also see in the entire email thread below, there are three important deceptions to point out:
- Politifact itself misrepresented the facts in question, as we never claimed that RI was the “only” state to mandate the vaccine. Nice try.
- PolitiFact refused to clarify which aspect of our statement they were challenging, despite repeated requests from our end
- Similarly, as has also been their pattern, PolitiFact utilized a bait-and-switch tactic; seemingly inquiring about one aspect of the statement, when, in practice, they base their ruling on a contrived interpretation of some other, more obscure aspect (ie, is this a mandate?)
Pointing out other under-handed tactics, Justin Katz further wrote in a related post in The Ocean State Current:
The brief summary under the “Truth-o-meter” reading “Half True” on PolitiFact RI’s main page emphasizes: “Pretty flexible for a despot.” That’s a reference to the most weaselly part of Mark Reynolds’s quote-unquote analysis, which reads as follows:
[CEO Mike] Stenhouse labels the policies in Virginia and Rhode Island as mandates. But Jason L. Schwartz, an assistant professor at the Yale University School of Public Health, says you can’t call policies with such liberal exemptions mandates. At best, this is an example of the frequent PolitiFact tactic of finding somebody whose opinion the writer prefers and treating that as the authoritative fact.
One wonders, though, what rating PolitiFact RI would give its own newspaper.
As for the PolitiFact rating, there are three relevant premises:
Rhode Island is only the second state to require the HPV vaccine for students. Even PolitiFact admits this is true.
The requirement is a mandate. This is so true that the supposedly objective journalists at PolitiFact RI’s home paper ran it in the most prominent spot on the paper.
The mandate was implemented without public debate. PolitiFact’s evidence of “public debate” is that the professional activists at the ACLU managed to send in a written objection and post about it on Facebook. Well, then.
The fact that PolitiFact considers the awareness of the ACLU to be “public debate” — as opposed to hearings and a floor debate by the public’s elected representatives — is one of two highly disturbing aspects of Reynolds’s essay. The other is the latitude that it gives to government officials to adjust the truth to suit their needs. Days after the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity helped drum up actual public debate and concern about the HPV mandate, the Dept. of Health came forward to assert that the exemptions are so broad that its mandates should really be considered something more like suggestions.
The Providence Journal should end this fraudulent, government-propaganda feature. It distorts public awareness and undermines the political process.
Finally, PolitiFact refused to publish the official statement our Center provided in response to its inquiry:
“The Center stands by its statement. In mishandling the plainly presented content of our research in PolitiFact’s original inquiry to us, combined with PolitiFact’s past pattern of twisting the obvious intent of straightforward statements, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has lost faith in PolitiFact’s mission to “find the truth” and will no longer participate in a process, where one organization plays prosecutor, judge, and jury in often reaching intellectually dishonest rulings.
The vital components of our statement have been validated by the Providence Journal’s own reporting and in your own emails to us. The Center further invites PolitiFact readers to conduct their own independent online search on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.”
PolitiFact has become PolitFarce. The people of Rhode Island deserve an honest debate about major public policy issues, where each side has a forum to openly present their respective points of view. When the resources of a powerful organization like the Providence Journal are used to serve as self-proclaimed judge, yet consistently, and likely purposely, corrupts what should be a helpful fact-finding process, it’s time for PolitiFact RI to be sentenced to journalistic death.