The following is excerpted from a post by my blogging colleague, Benjamin Kirby of The Spencerian.
Here’s a reason to hate PolitiFact: you look at this ad, their explanation of it, and tell me how it can be “mostly false.” How can it be anything other than “totally false” — or “pants on fire,” or whatever their ridiculous most-false thing is.
Romney’s ad claims that under Obama, home values in Florida collapsed, construction jobs were lost and the state’s foreclosure rate soared.
This much is true: The median home value in Florida has dropped by more than half; 300,000-plus construction jobs have disappeared and the Sunshine State continues to rack up a large number of foreclosure filings.
But each one of those trends began well before Obama was elected.
They’d have done well to end it there, rate it “false as hell,” and move on with their lives. They didn’t.
Analysts say they have been driven by a natural and inevitable market correction much more than by any government policies. But since the ad draws a cause/effect relationship — the cause being Obama’s presidency, the effect being a sour housing market — it’s worth noting that more of the decline in home values happened on Bush’s watch, and in the last year Florida housing has again begun to appreciate.
The premise of the ad is that Obama is “blaming someone else” for the miserable state of housing in Florida. Well, “someone else” deserves the blame. And PolitiFact even figures it out.
Stan Humphries, the head economist at Zillow, tells them everything they need to know:
Humphries pointed out that the decline under Obama so far amounts to 22.3 percent. Under his predecessor, George W. Bush, Florida home values fell 35.5 percent.
“More of those declines happened on Bush’s watch than on Obama’s watch,” Humphries said.
At PolitiFact, claims that cite a true statistic but apply misplaced blame on a politician or office holder are commonly rated Half True. We think this three-part claim stretches the truth even further. Homeowners in Florida who have watched their property value sink and their neighbors’ houses abandoned in foreclosure know this didn’t start when Obama walked into the White House. They’re in at least year seven of this grim reality.
So I suppose they did us the favor of not totally screwing it up with a “half true” rating, which would have made no sense at all. Instead…
Romney’s ad leaves out many critical facts to create a misleading impression. We rate it Mostly False.
[deep sigh… takes off glasses… rubs eyes with thumb and forefinger…]
This is the problem with PolitiFact: they overthink. The ad is false. It’s false! It is an ad built entirely on a lie.