More Fact Checker Fail

More Fact Checker Fail

October 19, 2012
Originally published in The Daily Beast

Fact checkers from the LA Times to Candy Crowley have made a number of erroneous "factual claims"--and yes, indeed, conservatives, the errors do all seem to run in the same direction.

Here's another from Politifact, wherein they rate an Obama claim "mostly true" while repeating an Obama claim that is entirely false. Jonathan Adler ably sums up:

Another example of fact checkers having trouble with facts can be found in Politifact’s commentary on whether it was fair for President Obama to criticize Mitt Romney for failing to say whether he supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In making its assessment Politifact totally bungled its description of the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and in the process perpetuated a false claim about the decision oft repeated in political debate (including by Lilly Ledbetter herself). Politifact wrote:

In 2007, the Supreme Court had ruled in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. that the 180-day statute of limitations started from the day an employer made the decision to discriminate — making it impossible for employees who learned of such discrimination later to get relief, such as back pay.

The problem is the last part of this sentence is false. In Ledbetter the Supreme Court did not hold that employees who learned of alleged discrimination more than 180 days after the alleged offenses were precluded from suing their employers. That question was not before the Court, and the majority opinion expressly noted (in footnote 10) that it was not answering this question. Ledbetter’s claim was not premised on a recent discovery of past discrimination. In fact, during the course of the litigation Ledbetter acknowledged that she first learned of the alleged discrimination more than 180 days before she filed suit. Indeed, as Hans Bader notes, Ledbetter admitted in a deposition that she learned of the pay disparities in 1992, but did not file suit until 1998.