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Is Politifact Biased Against Republicans?

- May 29, 2013

A leading media fact-checking organization rates Republicans as less trustworthy than Democrats, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University. The study finds that PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term. Republicans continue to get worse marks in recent weeks, despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.

According to CMPA President Dr Robert Lichter, “While Republicans see a credibility gap in the Obama administration, PolitiFact rates Republicans as the less credible party.”

From this press release.  This is nothing new.  Almost 4 years ago, I found the same pattern in Politifact’s scoring of claims during the health care debate. But as I noted in that post and as Brendan Nyhan quickly pointed out regarding this CMPA study, you can’t draw any firm conclusions from this exercise. Politifact isn’t randomly sampling the statements of Republicans and Democrats.  They’re just examining statements they consider particularly visible, influential, or controversial.  The data are consistent with any number of interpretations and so we can’t say all that much about the truthfulness of political parties, about any biases of Politifact, etc.