GOP strategists review PolitiFact findings, say they 'back up our argument about media bias'

The Washington Examiner | Republican Party of Virginia | PolitiFact Virginia | | The Washington Post

Republicans are "poring through the backgrounds" and tweets of PolitiFact writers, and "what Republicans are finding would appear to back up our argument about media bias," an unnamed "top GOP official" tells The Examiner's Paul Bedard.

PolitiFact is owned by the Tampa Bay Times, which is owned by Poynter.

The Republican Party of Virginia compiled an 86-page report about PolitiFact's Virginia operation, which is housed at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. PolitiFact Virginia "has ruled disproportionately against Republicans and in favor of Democrats," the report says. When PolitiFact releases positive ratings of Republicans, the report says, it's most likely to do so on a Friday afternoon, when few news consumers are paying attention.

In a blog post responding to the report, PolitiFact Virginia's editor Warren Fiske writes that the disparity is due to Republicans' overwhelming dominance of Virginia politics:

The governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general belong to the party, as do eight of the 13 members of Virginia’s congressional delegation, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Both houses of the General Assembly are run by Republicans. In addition, the GOP fielded four candidates in its primary for the U.S. Senate this spring and sponsored three debates between them. Democrats, in contrast, handed their nomination to an unopposed Tim Kaine. ...

We don't try to match every Truth-O-Meter item on a Republican with one on a Democrat. And when a Republican gets a False rating, PolitiFact Virginia is not obliged to assign a False rating to a Democrat.

I hate to carry water for the home team, but as a Virginia resident, I'll go ahead and point out that the state Republican party here includes prominent colorful characters like state delegate Bob Marshall, who PolitiFact has given three false ratings to. Marshall has posited that "nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children" of people who have abortions. He also recently blocked the appointment of a gay judge in part because, he said, "if you have a bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual, I’m concerned about possible bias."

I'm not involved in PolitiFact employees' performance reviews, but if I were, I'd put Fiske on a performance improvement plan immediately if he ignored such a gift from the Internet traffic gods.

Ohio's the next stop on the Republicans' fact-checker-fact-checking express. Bedard writes:

The GOP provided [Bedard] with the rulings record of Cleveland Plain Dealer and PolitiFact reporter Tom Feran that said he has authored twice as many "pants on fire" rulings against Republicans than Democrats. They also reviewed his Twitter account and found an October 9, 2011 tweet in support of OccupyAustin.

For some reason, Virginia GOP officials "declined repeated requests for further comment" from's Jon Cassidy, who did get SaintPetersblog's Peter Schorsch and Poynter's Rick Edmonds to comment. (“It’s also possible that one side is making more outrageous or newsworthy claims that attract attention," Edmonds told him.) Cassidy in particular focuses on one ruling about Cantor's economic musings: "Despite empirical evidence supporting Cantor’s position, PolitiFact ruled against him," Cassidy writes. PolitiFact Creator and Editor Bill Adair deferred comment to Richmond but told The Washington Post's Erik Wemple that “this is testament to the fact that we have disrupted the status quo."

Related: PolitiFact walks back second ruling in a month, this time on Rubio claim | Wemple: In 2 of 3 spats, PolitiFact and Maddow are talking past each other

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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