5 things I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times and other media

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At Newt Gingrich’s event in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, I had the pleasure of sharing a booth with the Times‘ Alex Leary.  First time I really chatted with him.  He was a class act, making me feel like a colleague, rather just another blogger.

Politifact rated Romney’s claim that the Navy was at its smallest since 1917 “Pants on Fire.” Tom Bruschino, one of the experts Politifact contacted, counters:

 On the Navy question, Romney appears to be accurate[ly] using the standard Navy metric, which is number of active ships. In 2003, the US Navy dropped below 300 active ships, and is currently at about 285. The last time the number was below 300 at the end of the year was 1916, when it was at 245.

Ackerman and Schachtman explain why this technical accuracy isn’t at all meaningful:

This is the sort of thing that’s literally true but meaningless in context. Counting ships is less important than counting types of ships, because they offer different seapower options. In 1917, the Navy did not have any aircraft carriers. It did not have silent, nuclear-powered (let alone nuclear-armed) spying submarines. It did not have — for all their many, many problems — modular minehunters that can operate close to enemy shores. And on and on.

In fact, as Politico’s Chuck Hoskinson has pointed out, Obama’s very Navy chiefs have unveiled a shipbuilding plan that goes from the current 288-ship fleet to 325 by early next decade. “Romney’s point falls flat as a political attack,” Hoskinson wrote last week, “because he’s suggesting the administration should do what it already had planned to do.”

More criticism of PolitiFact regarding its fact-checking of the President’s State of the Union speech:

OMG…this is beyond preposterous.

Politifact—the self-anointed fact checkers—grade this statement from the President speech tonight as “half-true:”

“In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.”

This is not half true or two-thirds true.  It is just true.

So why, I ask you, why do they go where they go?  Because of this:

In his remarks, Obama described the damage to the economy, including losing millions of jobs “before our policies were in full effect.” Then he described [sic!] the subsequent job increases, essentially taking credit for the job growth. But labor economists tell us that no mayor or governor or president deserves all the claim or all the credit for changes in employment.

Really?  That’s it?  That makes the fact not a fact?  I’ve seen some very useful work by these folks, but between this and this, Politifact just can’t be trusted.

The Chicago Sun-Times announced this morning that it will no longer endorse candidates. What about its rival, the Chicago Tribune? Here’s what editorial page editor Bruce Dold tells Romenesko readers:

We will keep doing election endorsements. It takes a lot of work to investigate these races and talk to the candidates and make an informed recommendation to readers, but I think endorsements are at the heart of what an editorial board does. We recommend an agenda and ask readers and government leaders to push that agenda. We push ideas for better public schools and economic growth and government that won’t tolerate the miserable culture of political corruption in Illinois. I don’t think it makes sense for us to recommend how to have better government but avoid recommending who is best to lead that change.

Editorials have impact. (Ask Rod Blagojevich, who tried to get the Trib editorial board fired.) Endorsements have impact, too. In a high-profile race, a newspaper endorsement is one of many opinions a reader will consider. We make a choice, we invite readers to tell us their own choices, we help to create a debate. In low-profile races, such as judicial races, readers don’t have much information. In Cook County, they may not know much more than which candidate is endorsed by the Democratic Party. I know from going to slating sessions that party loyalty is the first priority in those endorsements. We make an independent recommendation and many people trust us for that.

We plan to run an editorial on this tomorrow and it will be posted later today.

Here’s the Tribune’s editorial. Via Romensko.

The Pew Research Center on People & the Press notes today that young adults followed the battle over the Stop Online Piracy Act more closely than any other news story, according to new survey results.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.