Ted Cruz Dismantles PolitiFact

Ted Cruz went after the “lefty journalists” at PolitiFact yesterday on Facebook, calling them out for “grasping at straws” to rate his claim of the shrinking Democratic Party as “mostly false.”

Speaking with Megyn Kelly the day after the first Democratic debate hosted by CNN, Cruz was asked how he could ever appeal to a party that is running against free markets. He said, “The modern Democratic Party is getting smaller and smaller and smaller.”

PolitiFact sought to frame this claim as a lie, resting its position on the DNC’s greater fundraising than the RNC’s in 2014. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2014 the DNC raised $855 million to the RNC’s $666 million. This great fundraising, PolitiFact asserts, is proof of the falsity of Cruz’s claim.

Cruz noted that PolitiFact concedes Democratic losses during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Democrats have lost 11 governorships, 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 910 legislative seats. PolitiFact also acknowledged that 38% of Americans identified as Democrats in 2008. Today that number has dropped to 29%.

Despite the evidence corroborating Cruz’s description of the Democratic party as shrinking, PolitiFact still rated Cruz’s statement as “mostly false.”

PolitiFact is no stranger to scrutiny of its “fact-checking” operations. Here are a handful of examples of its work that drew the most ire from critical observers:

PolitiFact used pedantry to describe a joke made by Ted Cruz as “mostly false.” Speaking with Hugh Hewitt in March, Cruz jokingly contrasted American and Iranian holidays. He said, “And indeed, every day, or every year, rather, Iran celebrates as a holiday what they call ‘Death to America Day.’ That’s an actual holiday in Iran. Here, we have Thanksgiving, we have Christmas, we have the 4th of July. Every year in Iran, they celebrate ‘Death to America Day.'” PolitiFact conceded that Iran does officially commemorate the anniversary of Iranian revolutionaries seizing the U.S. embassy in Tehran. It also indirectly acknowledged that “Death to America” is a regular component of political sloganeering in Iran. Still, PolitiFact rated the claim “mostly false.”

PolitiFact actually “fact-checked” Scott Walker’s claim that he bought a sweater at Kohl’s for a dollar. When Walker was still campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, he shared a personal anecdote about buying a sweater at Kohl’s for only one dollar with “Kohl’s cash”; a sort of coupon presented to customers based on dollars spent with the retailer to incentivize repeat shopping. PolitiFact actually sent an employee to check out a Kohl’s in Glendale to check out the clearance racks. To its credit, it rated Walker’s claim “true."

PolitiFact rated Obama’s promise about keeping health care plans “true” in 2008, only to subsequently declare it 2013’s “Lie of the Year.” “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” said Obama in 2008 regarding the Affordable Care Act. PolitiFact rated the promise “true.” In 2013, however, PolitiFact declared almost the identical statement, “If you‘ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it,” as its “Lie of the Year.”

PolitiFact describes itself as an “independent fact-checking website.”

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