Politifact is a project run by the Tampa Bay Times. Its motto or slogan is, “Sorting out the truth in politics.” It claims to help you find the truth in Washington and the Obama presidency. Politifact is often cited by BlogCritics (BC) commenters in an effort to bolster their opinions and/or claims. They say that Politifact is objective and always correct. Politifact even publishes its “Lie of the Year.” The 2012 “winner” was Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign ad about Jeep (now owned by the Italian auto maker, Fiat) producing Jeeps in China.
The entire episode began with a misquoted and interpreted statement, then grew from there. Romney never said that Jeep production was being moved to China. He said, in Toledo, OH, in October 2012, “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.” [emphasis mine] Thinking and doing are two entirely different actions. But did Politifact let that little FACT stand in its way? To quote John Belushi on SNL, “Nooooooooooooooooo.” Nor would (could?) the MSM make the distinction, as well. Politifact even made the Romney campaign ad its “Lie of the Year.” Politifact said, “It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign.” Just in case y’all have forgotten, here is what Romney’s ad said: “ Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.” Did Politifact fail, on purpose, to say anything about Romney’s statement? No. Instead it chose to focus on the ad alone.
And, here is how Politifact characterized the entire Romney statement/ad episode:
“The ad miscasts the government’s role in Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler, and it misrepresents the outcome. Chrysler’s owners had been trying to sell to Italy-based Fiat before Obama took office. The ad ignores the return of American jobs to Chrysler Jeep plants in the United States, and it presents the manufacture of Jeeps in China as a threat, rather than an opportunity to sell cars made in China to Chinese consumers. It strings together facts in a way that presents an wholly inaccurate picture.”
Politifact even wrote, “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China.”
Well, guess what? Fiat announced that it will, indeed, be making Jeeps in China, beginning with the 2014 year models. The deal is a joint venture between GAC Group, Fiat Group Automobiles SpA, and Chrysler Group International LLC. Jeep already sells several imported (made in the US) models in China, but the venture says it will build Jeeps in China for the Chinese market. The Chinese car market is currently the largest in the world. So, instead of increasing Jeep production in the US, Fiat chose to create more jobs in China. Who woulda thunk it? I’m sure the people in Toledo are quite happy about that decision.
And Chrysler, of which Jeep is a part, got a taxpayer funded bailout.
Mark Hemingway of The Weekly Standard said:
“It [Politifact] implies that it would be better for Jeep to create more jobs in the U.S. in the short-term, instead of expanding overseas production. So in the end, PolitiFact’s beef with the Romney ad was an entirely argumentative disagreement about what course of action Jeep should take, not a factual objection to Romney’s true statement [as Politifact and the MSM chose to interpret it] that Jeep was going to start building cars in China.”
Hemmingway also said of Politifact (and other “fact” checkers) that they “aren’t about checking facts so much as they are about a rearguard action to keep inconvenient truths out of the conversation.”
Timing? Nowhere can I find any time line for this deal (perhaps BC readers can help me here), so what immediately follows is supposition on my part. A deal of this magnitude would take two or three (perhaps more) months to put together, including dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s. What does this mean? The Jeep/China production was in the works (before the election?), but that little fact didn’t stop Politifact from doing what it claims to do best, to check for the truth in politics. Yet that didn’t stop them from naming what Politifact knew to be a true statement from Romney in October as its “Lie of the Year.”
As many BC commenters are quick to point out, once credibility is lost, it can never be regained. This entire article was written by someone who has, according to many BC commenters, no credibility. So, don’t take my word for what has happened to Politifact. I have provided lots of links so that readers/commenters can see for themselves what both Politifact and Chrysler, I mean Fiat, have done.
I wonder if the Pulitzer organization, which awarded a prize to Politifact, will ask for its prize back. I also wonder if BC commenters will be consistent, will cease to cite Politifact as a source. After all, it has lost all credibility. But, then, consistency has never been a big concern of BC commenters.
But that’s just my opinion