Does PolitiFact Care About Accuracy?

PunditFact mistake corrections

PolitiFact Does a Poor Job With Corrections.

We’ve belabored the point that PolitiFact has yet to fix two problems we pointed out to the International Fact-Checking Network. The independent assessor chosen by the IFCN wrote that the problems we pointed out deserved a reply. But despite the passage of months we have seen no evidence PolitiFact has either run a correction or responded to the criticism.

And PolitiFact has established a pattern of ignoring criticism and leaving needed corrections undone.

On June 22, 2018 I published an article at PolitiFact Bias noting that PolitiFact had uncharacteristically run a correction (PolitiFact called it a clarification) in response to a problem we pointed out. We applauded the response to criticism but faulted the response for a lack of transparency. PolitiFact obscured from readers the nature of the error it had corrected/clarified.

On June 30, 2018, we spotted another mistake by PolitiFact at its PunditFact website. As with the other error, we emailed PolitiFact pointing out the mistake according to the instructions it provides in its statement of principles.

As mistakes go, the June 30 error counts as minor. The PunditFact fact check looked at a claim that actor Kurt Russell had criticized actor Meryl Streep for criticizing President Trump. The problem? The quotations in the story about Russell criticizing Streep occurred before Streep made her comments about President Trump. PolitiFact’s mistake occurred in its summary when it said the article misusing Russell’s comments falsely portrayed Russell as critical of Trump (bold emphasis added):

Russell said in a December 2015 interview on The View, “The last thing I like to watch is entertainers or actors get political.” But the Twentyeightmay story portrayed Russell’s quotes as an attack on Trump, and that wasn’t the case. The story didn’t make it clear when Russell made these statements.

The Twentyeightmay story has nothing in it to suggest Russell was attacking Trump. But the story does suggest that Russell spoke in response to Streep, criticizing her for her attack on Trump.

We think it’s an obvious error, and we do not understand why PolitiFact has not corrected it.

We think cases like this show that PolitiFact needs to work harder to show itself in compliance with the statement of principles it claims to follow. That’s despite the fact that the 2018 IFCN assessment of PolitiFact showed it in full compliance with the requirement for following an open and honest corrections policy.


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