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Here's PolitiFact bending over backward to fudge the facts enough to give President Obama a "half true" on a completely true statement. In the State of the Union, Obama said "In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005." This is, PolitiFact agrees, a 100 percent true statement—more than 3 million private sector jobs have been created in the last 22 months, and last year the most private sector jobs were created since 2005. So how do you look at this factual statement and come up with "half true"?

Easy, if you're PolitiFactory of Bullshit!

PolitiFact feels that Obama "implicitly credited his administration policies" with the job creation, since he also said "In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect." PolitiFact's response is that "labor economists tell us that no mayor or governor or president deserves all the claim or all the credit for changes in employment." Which might be relevant had Obama attempted to take all the credit for the jobs created. But, if you go all the way back to the specific statement they were allegedly fact-checking, you'll note that Obama said "businesses have created more than 3 million jobs." He specifically attributed job creation to businesses. In the paragraphs PolitiFact quotes for the context that allegedly shows him implicitly claiming credit, he did not cite a single specific job-creating program. Instead, he cites an agreement, yet to be fully implemented, to cut the deficit (which, if you're economically literate, you'll know is a bad idea for job creation in this economic climate anyway) and "new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again," another statement that looks forward—in this case to keeping the economy strong—but does not claim credit for the recently created jobs.

PolitiFact claims to exist to check facts, yet here they take a straightforward factual statement, acknowledge that it's true, and then engage in contortions to find a way to call it only half true by inventing meanings that are not in the words Obama spoke. In a sense, though, it's good. The "lie of the year" started to destroy PolitiFact's credibility, and the quicker they finish the job, the better for all of us.


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8:52 AM PT: Whoa. PolitiFact concludes this might have been going a little far and walks it back—but in a telling way:

EDITOR’S NOTE: 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.

Actually, guys, it's 100 percent true. Still, acknowledging when they get things wrong has not been a PolitiFact strength, to date, so this is progress. But they're walking back their initial rating not because they were made aware of a new fact but because of their zeal for "interpretation" that in fact twisted Obama's words. When you're supposed to be checking facts but your mistakes are coming from really attenuated "interpretations," you've got a problem.

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Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 07:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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