Monday, July 11, 2016

Parsing the truth about Harris County incarceration rates

A quick update on a Politifact screwup Grits reported on last month: They had ridiculously labeled "false" state Sen. Rodney Ellis' statement that Harris County had one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Grits responded debunking the piece and it was taken down after a few hours.

They have now re-issued the fact check and declared Ellis' statements "Mostly True," even though they literally dispute nothing he said, and he included the caveats they try to pretend might distinguish it from a fully "true" statement.

According to Politifact's "principles," "When we make a mistake, we correct it and note it on the original item."  In this case, though, the mistaken item was simply deleted, it still hasn't been updated, and they waited nearly a month to correct a screwup that was obvious the moment it was published. (After all, Grits had corrected it within hours.) I don't know how many MSM outlets ran the original item, but it shouldn't have taken a month to inform them and their readers Politifact messed up.

As I wrote when the item was first published, "Grits can't stand Politifact. As I've often said, the only labels they apply which have any validity are "True" or "Pants on Fire." Anything in between is a judgment call that they generally get wrong, usually thanks to a level of pedantry that contributes scarce little to real-world discussions." That observation applies here in spades. Their "false" assessment was wrong and the "mostly" before the word true in the new one is a CYA measure to justify their original error, not an assessment of the verity of Sen. Ellis' comment.


Anonymous said...

Grits: The first link needs correcting - it doesn't take you where it should. Thanks.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Gracias, 6:36, fixed it.