Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fact checking fact checks

So ABC has its typical 'Fact Check' article after the latest GOP debate.  I don't have access to everything, so it's tough to say.  I've noticed a trend, though, throughout the years.  According to various 'Fact Checks' that crop up around election time, Republicans are almost always less accurate than Democrats, and statements that hit at a GOP candidate's weak spot are almost always at least (mostly) accurate.  Not a fact, just a trend I noticed.

But nevertheless, I thought I would read through this one, especially since Rick Perry called out the Obama Administration's more recent moves that have many people of faith, particular Christians and especially Catholics, a little worried.  He called it nothing less than a war against religion in our country.  I've seen that phrase used more recently than I have before.  Much of it has to do with forcing organizations, even religious ones, to adopt certain practices that might otherwise be against the dictates of their religious conscience, especially where sexual identity or abortion and contraception are concerned.

Of course ABC feels this is not accurate.  Or does it?  Here's the whole section:
"Rick Perry accused President Obama of battling religion — Catholicism in particular — in tonight’s debate, saying those battles would “stop” if the Texas governor is elected president.
In particular, Perry cited the Obama administration’s decision in September to deny funding to Catholic charities for victims of sex trafficking. Perry opined that Obama did so because he disagrees with Catholics over abortion.
The Christian Post wrote that the Obama administration made the decision “because it does not provide clients with access to abortion and birth control services.”
“This administration’s war on religion is what bothers me greatly,” Perry said at the debate.
Perry’s rhetoric might be an exaggeration, though it’s certainly reminiscent of an ad he released in which he said: “You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion.”
Most respondents in a poll by Yahoo! don’t agree with Perry’s assessment of the White House’s stance on religion. Out of nearly 20,000 votes in a real-time poll conducted by during the debate, 58 percent of voters said they didn’t agree with the Texas governor."
You get that?  Where was the "Fact Check"?  According to a Yahoo Poll?  Are you kidding me?  And 58% of 'voters' taking part in this vast scientific survey on,  58% said they didn't agree with Perry?  So what the hell does that mean?  And what of the 42% that did!  So when only 42% of people thought gay should marry, it was obviously OK that they couldn't?  42% of Americans who think the highest office in the land has their religious beliefs in the cross hairs is a pretty damn significant story, if you ask me.

Naturally, and I hate to break the news, but online polls aren't the most accurate.  Second, the demographics are far from representative of the nation as a whole.  Plus, of course, you can have party splits there.  You just don't know.  But what I do know, and to me what is telling, is this.  First, ABC had nothing to lean on to 'refute' this 'fact' of Perry's charge other than a Yahoo poll.  That screams something right there.  Second, some 84,000 out of 200,000 think the highest office in the land is casting aside the Bill of Rights to attack their religious freedom.  If that's the best ABC can do to suggest I shouldn't worry, I think it might be prudent for people who take their religious faith seriously to start worrying.

Another thing.  I operate on the 'fool me once, shame on you' philosophy.  That's why I don't put much faith in the media.  I don't think all journalists are liars, agenda driven pundits manipulating facts to ramrod some ideological perspective down America's throat.  I just don't know the ones who do from the ones who don't.  Likewise, I don't know that every show on the History Channel is crap.  There might be some about topics I know nothing about that are pre-post modern scholarship level.  But since I've seen stories in the news and shows on the History Channel about topics I do know something about, and found them wanting at best, I have to be suspicious about the ones I don't know anything about. 

Same here.  I've never put much trust in 'fact checking' like this.  Especially in our society which, as I've said before, is based on pundits, not principles.  But seeing a farce like this, and seeing such a lame and transparent attempt to hide the obvious fact (one it was otherwise unable to refute) that Obama's Administration is pushing legislation that could jeopardize religious freedom, I think from now on I'll have even less concern about what the latest journalist's fact check has to say, and more concern about the religious rights of Americans.

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