Who is Behind Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter?

9.29.10 – Donna Garner – Lately readers all over America have been seeing Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter in their local newspapers. The icon is positioned after political candidates’ statements and makes the reader think that the ratings done by the Truth-o-Meter are the absolute authority.

However, just as I suspected: The Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter is a farce!  This organization of journalists at the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida, that partners with other newspapers around the country (undoubtedly left-leaning) is supposed to present non-partisan analyses of statements made by political candidates.


What Truth-o-Meter actually does is to nitpick at various statements made by candidates in an attempt to discredit them while at the same time Politifact.com pretends to be a non-prejudicial referee upon whose statements voters can lean. 


If I am going to lean upon their analyses of candidates, I need substance — not nitpicking.


Bill Flores v. Chet Edwards


Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter just did a hit piece on Bill Flores (R – TX),  who is running against incumbent Congressman Chet Edwards (D-TX).  Flores is a successful businessman whose recent TV ad states, “Bill Flores.  He’s a businessman, not a politician. Bill helped build successful energy companies and created over 500 American jobs. Now Bill Flores is running for Congress.”


Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter rated this statement “Barely True.”  How did they make this determination? They decided that Bill Flores had not personally created these jobs himself even though he was the chief financial officer (CFO). 


Now come on, Politifact.com.  How nitpicky can you get?  Everyone knows that a CFO runs a company and even though he may not have gone out on the street, grabbed someone up, brought him back to the company, and put him to work, the CFO is still considered the employer. 


A CFO is similar to a head football coach.  Even though there are assistant football coaches who do a large amount of the work, it is the head football coach who gets the credit or the blame for a team’s record.  It is the head football coach whose record is publicized in the media:  “Coach Groundhog now has a record of 1,579 wins and 2 losses!”   In a similar way, it is the CFO who is credited with creating the jobs for the company he runs.


Sen. Cornyn v. Abortions in Military Hospitals


Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter has done another similar nitpicky job on whether the defense authorization bill (9.21.10) contained language that would have required taxpayers’ funds to pay for abortions in military hospitals, domestic and abroad. 


Sen. John Cornyn and all of the other Republicans (along with two Democrats) voted against the defense authorization bill because of the three tacked-on amendments (i.e., taxpayer funding of abortions in military hospitals, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and a provision to give young illegal immigrants amnesty).


On the taxpayer funding of abortions in military hospitals here and abroad, Sen. Cornyn said he objected to the amendment because it “includes language that would require military hospitals to provide abortions on demand.” 


Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter immediately rated Cornyn’s statement as “False.”  Why?  Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill) is the one who scripted the original abortion amendment, and he admitted that it would repeal the restrictions on privately funded abortions performed in Department of Defense facilities on women in the military and even on their family members.


However, Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter then nitpicked Sen. Cornyn’s statement by saying that just because the abortions would be “permitted” does not mean “required.”  Truth-o-Meter concluded:


The defense bill stalled before the Senate includes language allowing military hospitals to provide abortions in cases beyond the existing permissible instances of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is endangered. But allowing is not the same as requiring. Contrary to Cornyn’s claim, we see no mandate in the proposed change.


Then Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter listed Sen. Cornyn’s statement as “False.” 


I may not be brilliant, but I think even I can conclude that if a military hospital were to be “allowed” to give a woman a free abortion, most of the military facilities probably would; and our taxpayers’ dollars would indeed have ended up paying for abortions in military hospitals, domestic and abroad.  Further, the abortions would have been given “on demand” meaning women would not have had to prove rape or incest.  


I am very appreciative of all of the Senate Republicans (and the two Democrats) who voted against the defense authorization bill that contained the three nefarious amendments. 


Can’t Count on Truth-o-Meter


In conclusion, I think it is obvious that we voters cannot count on Politifact.com Truth-o-Meter to produce any real, in-depth analyses; and I do not want to base my voting decisions on nitpicky statements. 


Could it be that Politifact.com at the St. Petersburg Times (partnering with other financially desperate newspapers) has become an income producer during the elections to try to tide them over financially because of loss of readership?   


Here’s a unique idea for these Truth-o-Meter journalists:  Why not let us in the public run a Truth-o-Meter on their newspaper articles.  For instance in newspapers throughout our country, the headline after the defeat of the defense bill read,  “Republicans Defeat Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 


The public’s Truth-o-Meter rating:  FALSE 


The Republicans do not have enough members in the Senate to defeat anything.  Remember:  It is the Democrats who have the majority in both the Senate and the House.  It took the two Democrats voting with the Republicans to defeat the bill. The newspapers should have read,  “Bi-Partisan Effort Defeats Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 









  1. Chad

    Very nicely done. When I first found politi"fact," I thought, "Hey, this is a cool idea." But then the cynic in me followed up with a question: "Just who in the hell is behind politifact and through what ideological lense are they viewing the world?" After scouring their website, I think it's pretty obvious where they're coming from. They should have as their tagline, "A churched up version of mainstream media."

  2. cheryl groff

    I have no website but am very thankful for your meticulous analysis of Truth-O-Meter. It is an eyeopener to be sure. Keep up the good reporting.

  3. Larry

    In point of fact, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) generally only makes financial decisions – how much paper to write, whether to issue bonds or stock to fund the enterprise. He does not make hire and fire decisions, nor is he responsible for the strategic direction or growth of the enterprise. In fact, in larger corporations the CFO is often isolated from operational decisions of that sort.

    The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) makes the crucial operational decisions that create — or destroy — jobs. It’s easy to confuse the two functions.

  4. Scott Foens

    I read the article and the author comes to some pretty questionable conclusions. In the first section on Bill Flores, Politifact rates the statement that, “Bill helped build successful energy companies and created over 500 American jobs,” giving it a “barely true” rating.

    The author writes that, “[Politifact] decided that Bill Flores had not personally created these jobs himself even though he was the chief financial officer (CFO)….How nitpicky can you get? Everyone knows that a CFO runs a company and even though he may not have gone out on the street, grabbed someone up, brought him back to the company, and put him to work, the CFO is still considered the employer.”

    That would be wrong. The CFO is the Chief Financial Officer. The person who runs the company is the CEO, Chief Executive Officer. It is the CEO, along with the Board of Directors that sets the overall direction of the organization. It is the CEO, acting in his or her fiduciary responsibility as the leader that is responsible for employment levels at a company. Often times, this piece is handed off to the COO, or Chief Operating Officer, but that isn’t always the case. Bottom line, the CFO is not considered the employer.

    In the Senator Cornyn case, the situation is the same. Cornyn said that military hospitals would be required to provide abortions. That’s not what the amendment said. It said that they would be permitted to provide abortions. Mandating that that you give me one hundred dollars is quite a bit different that permitting you to give me one hundred dollars.

    The key point with Politifact is that words matter and they use the words provided. They also provide outstanding context and background information. In fact, on a recent piece on the Obama Administration’s claim about sixteen tax cuts to small business, Politifact pointed out that while the statement is mostly true, nearly half of the tax cuts were not targeted at small businesses, but rather business in general. Additionally, Politifact pointed out that there were some tax increases in other legislation related to healthcare.

    Finally, a word about the author, Donna Garner. She’s not someone that I would say comes to the table with no agenda. She is a conservative education activist who lobbies against the teaching of pregnancy prevention in schools among other socially conservative causes. An April 30th 2011 piece entitled, “TEX. RINO’S AND LIBS SHUT OUT STATE BD. OF ED. CONSERVATIVES,” gives me a clear indication of where she’s coming from. She doesn’t have a business background, and also doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of words either. Not someone on whom I’d hang my hat.

    • EducationViews.org

      Don’t fret my friend no one in Texas wants your opinion…hang out in San Frecko with the rest of your likes.

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September 29th, 2010

Donna Garner EducationNews Policy Commentator

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