Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lies, and the Lying Liars ...



"Reality has a well-known liberal bias" - Stephen Colbert

So I was thinking about that recent study that found that watching Fox News makes you stupid, as the headlines put it. And it got me thinking about how it's a really insulting thing to say that those who watch Fox News are actually idiots. I mean, the study is actually about misinformation and the 2010 election (that's actually its title) and not just about Fox News viewers. Sure, 63% of everyday Fox News viewers thought that it was unclear where the president was born, but that might be because 64% of Republicans share the same view. Fox News may lie directly to their customers, but they may also just be broadcasting and repeating Republican lies.

So this got me thinking about Republican lies. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of them. Like, a whole lot. It seems like Republicans lie more often than do Democrats. But I recognize that I am a liberal and I am a Democrat, and so when I hear about statements made by conservative Republicans, I notice the lies more prominently than your average American. So I decided to go to politifact.com (the non-partisan fact-checking project of the St. Petersburg Times that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009) and count up all the lies to see who lies more: Republicans or Democrats.

The editors of Politifact.com spend a lot of time sorting out controversial statements by how much truth they contain, always recognizing that, in politics, truth is never black-and-white. So they place statements into the following truth categories: "true", "mostly true", "half true", "barely true", "false", and "pants on fire."

Politifact.com has been around since the early stages of the 2008 presidential campaign, so that meant there were a lot of statements to count. I counted each statement made by a human or organization, and I did not count any chain emails or statements made by "bloggers". Journalists and pundits counted towards partisan totals only if it was clear which party they sympathized with (i.e. Rachel Maddow = Democrat, Glenn Beck = Republican). Joe Liebermann counted as a Democrat, even when he was bashing Obama; and Arlen Spector counted as a Democrat only if he made the statement after he switched parties. Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader were put in the blue category: Bob Barr and the Cato Institute in the red.


There is surprising parity in the number of statements analyzed by Politifact.com. Politifact.com has chosen an almost equal number of Democratic and Republican statements over the years.


But of those statements, Republicans have told more lies than Democrats. And more Democratic statements have been rated "true" and "mostly true" than Republican statements.



A statement made by a Democrat is most likely going to be in the "true" category (25%). A statement made by a Republican is most likely going to be in the "false" category (23%).


A true or mostly true statement is more likely to come from a Democrat than a Republican by a margin of 54% to 44%.


And throughout Barack Obama's presidency and all the policy debates about health care, the stimulus and everything else, the margin has been fairly consistent: 54% for Democrats to 46% for Republicans.


However, a "false" or "pants-on-fire" statement is much more likely to come from a Republican source than a Democratic source.


And the margin has only increased during Obama's tenure as president. Nearly 7 out of 10 lies categorized by Politifact.com have been Republican lies. Think back to the policy debates during this time. The health care debate (death panels), the stimulus package (no jobs created), all the tax policy stuff (tax hikes); of all the lies that were produced during this time, almost 70% of them came from Republicans.


When one isolates the worst, most egregious lies, the "pants-on-fire" lies, one finds that the liars are overwhelmingly Republican.


And 87% of the worst, foulest, stankiest lies of the past two years originate from members of the Republican Party.

3 comments:

RevScot said...

I'm not the least bit surprised... facts get in the way of preconceived notions regarding how we think the universe should be!

Deborah Jacobs said...

Interesting stats. Nice graphs. :) Not terribly surprising results.

Steve said...

Thanks!