PolitiFact, Humbled

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2012 3:39 PM

PolitiFact, Humbled

PolitiFact charged out of the gate yesterday, adding to coverage of the State of the Union by catching President Obama in a "half true" statement. The president claimed that the economy added 3 million jobs since the bottom of the recession. Again: He said that "businesses" were responsible. PolitiFact's Lou Jacobson tsk-tsked the audacity.

In his remarks, Obama described the damage to the economy, including losing millions of jobs "before our policies were in full effect." Then he describe the subsequent job increases, essentially taking credit for the job growth. But labor economists tell us that no mayor or governor or president deserves all the claim or all the credit for changes in employment... he went too far when he implicitly credited his administration policies.
Advertisement

The fact was true, but the president seemed to take some sort of credit. It made no sense. He was only implicitly implying that his policies helped. He was doing this in a speech about his policies and the state of the country. The most righteous, screw-this anger arrived on the blog of Jared Bernstein, former Obama economic adviser, now full-time critic of economic scolds. "This is not half true or two-thirds true," he snapped. "It is just true."

Half a day later, the PolitiFact item was changed.

Our original Half True rating was based on an interpretation that Obama was crediting his policies for the jobs increase. But we've concluded that he was not making that linkage as strongly as we initially believed and have decided to change the ruling to Mostly True.

I called Jacobson to divine the reason for the change; he defered to Bill Adair. "We got lots of feedback about the jobs claim and it prompted us to take a second look at our rating," he said. He's written a long item on how the call was made -- in a discussion between four editors, who "felt it was right on the line between the two ratings." They've been there before, of course. But this War of the Little Green Icon ended very differently than the battle over the "Lie of the Year."

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How Moscow’s Anti-War March Revealed One of Russia’s Deepest Divides

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like An Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.