Politifact’s Politically-Motivated Bias

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Politifact is a relatively new fact-checking consortium established by several newspapers to research politicians’ statements and assist the public in evaluating those statements. It bills itself as impartial and objective, but, its conclusions are inevitably clouded by expertise and individual biases of the journalists and editors who serve as fact-checkers.

FAIR’s 2010 report “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers” has been widely cited by local policymakers as evidence of the major fiscal costs borne by taxpayers in their state. As a result, the report has been the subject of several queries from Politifact researchers. FAIR has cooperated in all of these Politifact projects and has shared in depth our data sources and methodology. The resulting newspaper analyses have varied widely with some sustaining the local politicians’ citation of the report and others citing criticism of FAIR’s study by illegal alien support groups as justifying a negative finding. This demonstrates that the Politifact investigations are influenced by political bias.

The most recent Politifact investigation centers on a New Jersey legislator’s claim that illegal immigration costs her state $3 billion a year. Asssemblywoman Alison Little McHose cited FAIR’s research as the source of her claim. The Politifact investigator noted that there is dispute over the costs and FAIR’s inclusion of the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens as part of the overall costs. FAIR makes no secret of the fact that we include the costs associate with U.S.-born children whose presence here is a direct consequence of illegal immigration. Politifact also concedes that a number of fiscal cost studies by other organizations also came to the conclusion that illegal aliens are a net fiscal burden. Yet Politifact’s bottom line is that McHose’s claim, based on FAIR’s research, is “False.”

Politifact’s rating seems to be based on the tenuous reasoning there is no other group found that would verify FAIR’s numbers. Politifacts should be rating studies based on the data available and measured against other published facts, otherwise, as it is clear in this case, their claim is simply politically-driven.

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Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

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