Earlier I excoriated NBC for a witless fact check. But I did not read the whole list, since I was so disgusted by the third example. Now that I have recovered a bit, why not do something that today’s journalists seem unable to do? That is, apply logic.
I am not going to fact-check the NBC/Politifact fact checkers. I am going to logic check them. That is, I am going to analyze their presentation of alleged facts to see just how ably the fact checkers can stick to facts and not engage in spin.
- Trump said he didn’t urge people to “check out a sex tape” about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. He did.
- Trump said health care costs are going up by 68 percent, 59 percent, 71 percent. The national estimate ranges are far lower.
- Trump said Clinton “acid washed” her private email server. She didn’t. She used an app called Bleachbit, not a corrosive chemical.
- Trump said Clinton doesn’t know Russia hacked the DNC. U.S. intelligence has said they very likely did.
Must one remind fact checkers that “knowing” and “guessing” are two different things?
- Trump said Clinton got a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl “off” his charges. She didn’t.
- Trump said Clinton laughed at a child rape victim. She didn’t.
- Trump said Clinton “viciously attacked” four women. This is largely unsubstantiated.
It is worth noting that if one takes the perspective of a feminist, and believes women who charge men with rape, then ‘largely unsubstantiated’ could be interpreted as ‘likely nevertheless.’ From what I can tell about criticisms of the Clintons, an enduring theme is how the couple weasel out of charges by lying, stonewalling, and backroom negotiations. So one gets the sneaking suspicion that the judgment, above, is of dubious merit.
- Trump said his 2005 recording didn’t describe sexual assault. It did.
This is very much a matter of interpretation, which is why on the page devoted to the issue, NBC admits that “It’s unclear what Trump means.” And it is also the case that a sexual grope can be welcomed and that does in fact make the grope not a sexual assault. I have been groped without my permission. I moved the “assaulter’s” hand away from my crotch. I guess this is an example of one standard for men and another for women, since I would never have accused the man who groped me of sexual misconduct worth legal reflection, though by the letter of modern law he could have been prosecuted. Further, it is worth noting that Trump was bantering with a friend. He may very well have been engaging in something like hyperbole.
- Trump said Clinton’s campaign started the “birther” movement. She didn’t.
This is a prime example of sneaky re-phrasing. “Clinton’s campaign” is not the same as “She.” And the article linked, incidentally, does not deal with the key proponent of the idea in the accusations I have heard. I rate this “Fact Check” DECEPTIVE.
- Trump said Clinton wants a single payer healthcare. She doesn’t.
No one knows what a liar wants, not for sure. The link at the time that I inspected this page did not go anywhere to back this up.
- Trump said the San Bernardino shooters’ neighbors saw bombs in their apartment. They didn’t.
- Clinton wants 550 percent more Syrian refugees, Trump said. He’s right.
- Trump said the nation can’t screen those refugees. That’s false.
To back up this expression of apparent certainty, NBC/Politifact notes “the extensive screening” current refugees “undergo.” This assumes that the screening that now takes place is effective, and that Trump would be forced by the facts to agree with that evaluation. I doubt if many people would concur with NBC here. The assumption that some current level of screening could scale up to Trump-acceptable screening is not logical.
- Trump said he was against the Iraq invasion. He wasn’t.
- Trump said he doesn’t know Putin. That’s not what he said before 2015.
- Clinton said she wasn’t Secretary of State when Obama proclaimed the use of chemical weapons by Syria was a red line. She was.
Though this list is not utterly without value, a simple look at the words chosen shows that quite a few rhetorical and logical tricks have been used to declare Trump less factual than Hillary.
I wish to add, however, that I am not defending Trump as a reliable deliverer of facts. He is not. He is, generally, sloppy regarding facts, seeming more like a bull-shitter than anything else.
But when it comes to chickenshit, NBC and Politifact remain champions.