While waiting for a gel to run

 From ‘Politifact’, a fact-checking column of the St. Petersburg Times, I collected these data (as of 11/12/09).  Now, I don’t necessarily agree with the standards used by the SPTimes as to Truthity or Falsehoodiness, but I thought it might prove interesting to assess their extreme evaluations, figuring that anything which broke through the “shades of grey” barrier was highly likely to be reasonably accurate.  It might be interesting to look at the other categories as well, but there we get into what the distinctions are between Mostly True, Half True, and Barely True.  One further consideration is that these claims are only those which have been submitted to be fact-checked, so there may be some selection going on.  As it happened, it took so long just to do a quick-and-dirty on the ‘false’ and ‘pants-on-fire’ sets that I put the ‘true’ category off indefinitely.  I’m not sure it would tell me anything interesting, anyway.

First, the “Pants-on-Fire” category of claims or statements which are not simply wrong, but are grossly wrong; even to being the opposite of the truth.  Note that some of the merely “False” claims appear to also meet these criteria, so I may not be fully aware of the SPTimes’ selection standards.

Any errors (whether mathematical, transcriptional or categorical) are entirely the fault of the poor grade of coffee I’m drinking to stay awake.  Should I be caught, I will disavow any knowledge etc., etc.

GOP = “Grand Old Party”, aka Republican Party.  DOP = “DisOrganized Party”, aka Democratic Party.

In descending order of appearance (author and political affiliation indicated where appropriate), and remembering that some number of these claims originated during the last Presidential campaign:

Specifically Anti-Obama internet claims: 20

Anti-Democrat internet claims: 7

John McCain (R): 7

Republican Party: 4

Michelle Bachman (R, Arkham): 4

Barack Obama (D): 3

Sarah Palin (R): 3

Joe Biden (D): 3

Mike Huckabee (R): 2

Bill Clinton (D): 2

Hilary Clinton (D): 2

Anti-Clinton internet: 2

Mike Gravel (ex-D): 1

Bill Richardson (D): 1

Rudy Giuliani (R): 1

John Edwards (D): 1

Mitt Romney (R): 1

Anti-Mormon internet (R, PAC): 1

Anti-McCain internet (R, PAC): 1

Jerome Corsi (R, media): 1

Brian Schweitzer (D): 1

Anti-Palin internet: 1

NRA (R, lobby): 1

Planned Parenthood (D, lobby): 1

Eric Cantor (R): 1

Cynthia Lummis (R): 1

Steve King (R): 1

Newt Gingrich (R): 1

Investor’s Business Daily (R, media): 1

Betsy McCaughey (R, lobbyist): 1

Glenn Beck (R, media): 1

Roy Blunt (R): 1

Orly Taitz (Birther, Neptune): 1

Michael Steele (R): 1

Rush Limbaugh (R, media): 1

Pro-‘Teaparty’ internet: 1

Anti-ACLU internet: 1

Christopher Monckton (anti-global warming, UK): 1

Charlie Crist (R): 1

So, to summarize, and keeping in mind that these lies range from the trivial to the important, the list of egregious lies is:

Republican lies: 37 lies from 22 sources (~1.6 lies/source)

Democratic lies: 15 lies from 9 sources (~1.6 lies/source)

Anti-Republican lie: 1 lie from 1 source

Pro-Republican lie: 1 lie from 1 source

Anti-Democratic lie: 11 lies from 4 sources

(separate category)

Specifically Anti-Obama from non-specific sources: 20 lies from the internet (more or less)

Anti-Global Warming source: 1 lie from 1 source.

In a nutshell, then, 69 egregious lies directed from Republicans or at Democrats (some “friendly fire” from the GOP primary); 16 egregious lies directed from Democrats (includes “friendly fire” from the DOP primary); 1 egregious lie from an anti-GW source from the UK (Tory party)

As above, but for the ‘False’ category:

Republican source (includes Joe Lieberman, on behalf of McCain): 84 lies from 43 sources (~1.9 lies/source)

(separate category)

John McCain: 35 lies

Democratic source (includes Bernie Sanders): 42 lies from 23 sources (~1.8 lies/source)

(separate category)

Barack Obama: 34 lies

Anti-Republican lies: 9 lies from the internet (more or less)

Anti-Democratic lies: 11 lies from the internet (more or less)

(separate category)

Anti-Obama lies: 17 lies from 1 source

Anti-global warming lies: 2 lies from 1 source

In a nutshell, then, 147 lies directed from Republicans or at Democrats (some “friendly fire” from the GOP primary); 85 lies directed from Democrats or at Republicans (some “friendly fire” from the DOP primary); 2 lies directed at global warming.

The summary totals of the above two categories:

Republican lies: 216

Democratic lies: 101

Lies specifically directed at Barack Obama from non-specific sources: 37

Lies specifically directed at any other politician from non-specific sources: McCain and HRClinton tied at 4 each, Palin at 1

The Top 3 liars** in each party (includes both the primary and the general election campaigns of 2008):

D: Obama, 37; HRClinton, 8; Biden, 7

R: McCain, 42; Giuliani and Huckabee tied at 6 each

** Note that “liar” in this case is merely a short-hand designation for someone who has been determined by the St. Petersburg Times’ Politifact to have made a claim which Politifact has decided is not an accurate reflection of reality.  The writer of these words in no way endorses or intends any pejorative or offensive meanings to be associated with this term when used in this way, as he understands that politicians inhabit a different plane of reality when it comes to issues of fact.  The writer of these words would further like to go on record as stating that the staff responsible for checking the claims for Politifact must be stoned or otherwise impaired on the job, as their decisions are frequently both capricious and arbitrary.  Still, it makes for an interesting set of data.


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