A Media Trackers analysis of all rulings from PolitiFact Ohio, the “fact checking” arm of Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, proves that Democrats fare better than Republicans in five of six “Truth-o-Meter” categories. PolitiFact Ohio rulings on statements from Democrat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel show the most glaring bias – especially when written by leftist PolitiFact Ohio contributor Tom Feran.
At publication, Brown and Mandel have each received 22 PolitiFact Ohio rulings. More than a third of the rulings for Brown and more than a quarter of the rulings for Mandel were written by Tom Feran, an Obama supporter who has disparaged conservatives as “wingnuts” and “yahoos.”
Because Feran has judged 9 Brown statements and 6 Mandel statements, values in the following chart are expressed as percentages.
According to liberal Tom Feran, statements from liberal Sherrod Brown are completely true almost half the time and statements from conservative Josh Mandel are ridiculously false even more often than that. Based upon Feran’s “fact checks,” Brown tells the truth two thirds of the time while Mandel lies two thirds of the time.
PolitiFact Ohio’s bias in favor of Brown – whose wife was a Plain Dealer columnist until she resigned in 2011 after being caught filming Mandel at a Tea Party event – is slightly less obvious when all 44 rulings are considered.
Based on all PolitiFact Ohio rulings on statements from Brown and Mandel, Brown is honest more than twice as often as Mandel, and Mandel tells ridiculous “Pants on Fire” lies six times as often as Brown.
Note that Occupy Wall Street enthusiast Tom Feran is responsible for half of the “True” rulings given to Brown and half of the “Pants on Fire” rulings given to Mandel. Media Trackers has debunked all three of the aforementioned “Pants on Fire” rulings.
Although the liberal skew of PolitiFact Ohio rulings is less extreme when all Democrat and Republican statements judged since summer 2010 are considered, the discrepancy remains pronounced. Only in the “Half True” category could Republicans be construed as having an advantage, but “Half True” statements are also by definition half false.
In PolitiFact Ohio’s two positive Truth-o-Meter categories – “True” and “Mostly True” – Democrats have an 18-point advantage. Democrat statements have received positive rulings 55 percent of the time, but the same applies to only 37 percent of Republican statements.
In PolitiFact Ohio’s three negative Truth-o-Meter categories – “Mostly False,” “False,” and “Pants on Fire” – Democrats have a 14-point advantage. Democrat statements have received negative rulings 29 percent of the time, while 43 percent of Republican statements have been assigned negative rulings.
The cumulative result is a 32-point tilt in favor of Democrats. Based on PolitiFact Ohio rulings, Democrats are honest 26 percent more often than they are dishonest, and Republicans are dishonest 6 percent more often than they are honest.
Liberals argue that the partisan gulf in PolitiFact Ohio rulings proves Republicans lie far more frequently than Democrats, but voter registration records suggest a more likely explanation: Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans on PolitiFact Ohio’s staff. There are no scientific statement selection or judging processes in place at the Plain Dealer to account for journalist bias.
Previous Media Trackers coverage has detailed the refusal of Ohio’s largest newspapers to acknowledge the leftward tilt of the Plain Dealer’s “fact checking” operation.
Even as Sherrod Brown has made Tom Feran’s PolitiFact Ohio rulings a centerpiece of his U.S. Senate campaign, journalists continue assigning undeserved credibility to the liberal outlet.