Study finds significant pro-Democrat bias by PolitiFact

by Dan Lucas

Study finds PolitiFact rates Republican statements false 3 times the rate of Democrats

A February 2011 study published by the University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics news site, a part of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, finds a significant bias on the part of PolitiFact in favor of statements made by Democrats: “That means a supermajority of falsehoods documented by PolitiFact over the last year – 76 percent – were attributed to Republicans, with just 22 percent of such statements coming from Democrats.”

A glance at the most recent PolitiFact ratings by the Oregonian would definitely support findings of a pro-Democrat bias.

The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics study especially calls out “how statements are selected” by PolitiFact: “there remains a fundamental question of which statements (by which politicians) are targeted for analysis in the first place. A Smart Politics content analysis of more than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011 finds that current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts.”

Smart Politics is a non-partisan political news site authored and founded in 2006 by Dr. Eric Ostermeier, a Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (CSPG) at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Media | 64 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Alwaysknewthis


  • Ashamedtobeamerican

    There is absolutely no evidence of left-wing media bias. None whatsoever.
    Rush has three hours to deliver right-wing bias. All we have is the three major news networks, NPR, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, HuffPo, and all the magazines and newspapers in the country.
    Not really a fair fight if you ask me.
    We need the fairness doctrine.
    We need it now.

    • r u serious

      All the magazines and newspapers in the country are NOT liberal. WOW. And the far right has not just Rush but Sean, Fox, Heritage Foundation, Washington Times,Federal Review, Media Research Center, National Review, Wall Street Journal, CNS News, Weekly Standard, World Net Daily, American Daily Review, Newsbusters, New York Post………

    • Matt Hickey

      Rush Limbaugh isn’t the media, he’s a commentator.  He’s allowed to say whatever the heck he wants as long as it’s within FCC regulations.  

    • Guest

      Roughly ninety percent of journalists are leftwingers, and they control the major news outlets. Whether it’s WaPo, NY Times, Boston Globe, the alpha tv channels, almost all the big boys are liberal, as are most university professors, especially our elite schools. So if you think that there is no leftwing bias in the media then you are one serious ignoramus.

  • Newsman

    If you took a scientific poll you would find that most people believe there is no bias in the media. Catie Couric, for example, is trusted by over 17% of white females in the 25-40 age bracket. Not exactly Cronkite numbers, but most truly believe the mainstream media helps them get the straight scoop.
    I believe the reason most people trust the nightly news bunch is that they can and should be trusted. Sure, Dan Rather was a little scary, but most of these guys and gals really, really try hard to read the story straight. I just feel it.

    Anyway, Ophrah is trusted even more than Couric, but that is another story for another time.

    For now, please rejoice in that we have a free country with a responsible media that cares for us like children. And carefully explains to us what we think, so that we know.

    I am proud of my mainstream, drive-by media outlets!

  • Collegeboy

    I have heard the U of M is a bunch of lefties. Why would they report the truth? Something is fishy.

    • r u serious

      everyone who isn’t FAR RIGHT FANATICAL is a lefty. WOW !!!

  • Dogman

    This whole study is flawed as are the comments below.

  • Dogman

    This whole study is flawed as are the comments below.

  • Notfooled

    Wasn’t this Humphrey guy a rabid left-winger?
    How can we trust a study by a place with a name like that??
    Do they think we are fools??

  • Notfooled

    I trust only the major network news anchors for my news as I know they have the inside scoop on all that stuff and they personally research all the stories so I can trust them.
    I don’t, for example, trust FOX or places like that or Rush or people like that as they are too sure of themselves. I trust only a middle of the road kind of milk toast pansy wet noodle kind of newsman. You know, a moderate. A centrist. Someone who is sound and has a firm foundation for their thoughts. A dandy, if you will.

  • Danfan

    Dan Rather was a true newsman. If he did not like the news, he made up what he wanted and went with that.
    Now that’s reporting!

  • Oregonianfanboy

    The Oregonian has actually come around lately with some solid reporting, even though it is going under.
    They use AP for a lot of the filler stuff, but for local news and hard hitting reporting of the sort we think of from days of old, this rag has them all beat!

  • Collegeprof

    Hey, what’s with all these posts? They seem like they are all from one sad sack loser.

  • Lostmywheels

    Is anyone going to Dorchester? I need a ride. Please let me know. Thanks.

  • Suburban Dad

    Not at all surprised by this. It is derived from the quotes they decide to check. They are willing to review obscure right wing internet rumors, but looked the other way when dave hunt falsely linked a bunch of republican house candidates to a national sales tax.

  • Bob Clark

    One idea is to create the Catalyst’s own Political Fact checker. Why should we give credit to the Oregonian as the arbiter of truth? We shouldn’t. Take TAO’s claim of the paper bag fee as being a tax. I think the Oregonian Political Fact it as False. But in other similar cases the Oregonian might have ruled it Barely True, arguing while not legally most proper, it is really just a matter of seminatics (The government could just as effectively impose a five cent paper bag tax, and then return these same tax revenues to Grocers. There’s really not much difference from what is proposed in practice). The Oregonian’s Political Fact check is thus somewhat an arbitrary arbiter of truth.

    • valley person

      Why not just create an alternative Catalyst reality and be done with it?

      • guest

        Dung by folly, twits BlueOregon inna sewer/.

  • Jim

    Well, it seems to me that’s not an issue of left-wing bias but rather weaker ethical compasses on the right. When the PolitiFact issues are things like “John Kitzhaber destroyed 12 million jobs” or “the Oregon Health Plan actually doesn’t cover all kids,” of course they’re going to be ruled as false.

  • valley person

    Alternative headline: “Study finds Democrats are more honest than Republicans”. Are you sure you want to repeat that here?

    • noibn

      Uff-Da, Soros Volley Person – nutso transparently smoke and mirrored as being in league with MoveOn.D’oh.

  • Scruffy

    That’s because Republicans make more factually challenged statements.

    • Matt Hickey

      Keep hearing what you want to hear… sheeple to the slaughter.

  • Steve Plunk

    This makes me think of the bias at NPR. I’ve listened to NPR news for more than 25 years and discovered the reports they file are pretty accurate but it’s the choice of topics that really exposes the bias. If you ignore certain stories and focus on others you can certainly paint the world in the image you choose.

    Politifact, it appears, has been caught doing the same. All politician lie and stretch the truth according to their needs. If you choose to check the statements of Republicans 75% of the time you will find more dishonesty in raw numbers than their Dem counterparts by default. This isn’t that tough of a math problem.

    It is very discouraging that once again the supposed guardians of free speech and unbiased facts, the media, is exposed as nothing of the sort.

    • valley person

      The way this is summed up in the original post is not that there were more Republicans checked than Democrats, but that Republicans received harsher grades. So they were either biased in their grading or Republicans fib more.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    As I have remarked in the past virtually all of my friends are left wing. It took me a while to realize this, but they seriously do look upon things like HuffPo and MediaMatters as unbiased sources.

    Look at most of the liberals on this blog – they will constantly cite medimatters or something similar as an unbiased source. While Im sure most conservatives here listen to Rush or Beck, you will almost never see a citation from either of their websites on here.

    Liberals are notoriously non introspective. This is why they cite clearly biased sources and have a remarkable inability to even be able to identify bias that favours them. Its also why Palin using a target map was a big deal to them, and the union talks and signs in WI are of no consequence.

  • elc

    That is some seriously poor grasp of statistics. Suppose 90 percent of the outright lies are presented by Republicans. (would not surprise me considering how they condone the outright propaganda at Fox ‘news’) Then the fact that PolitiFact’s reporting only showed 76% would be a demonstration of a pro-Republican bias. No matter what you believe, you simply cannot make a mathematical finding of bias without an independent measurement of the numbers underlying the reported numbers.

    • conservatively speaking

      “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”
      — Francis Bacon

      Attest: Media Matters,, Al Jezeera, The Muslim Brotherhood, DNC, BlueOregon, SEIU, David Wu, et al.

    • conservatively speaking

      “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”
      — Francis Bacon

      Attest: Media Matters,, Al Jezeera, The Muslim Brotherhood, DNC, BlueOregon, SEIU, David Wu, et al.

  • Rockstar_reptiles

    Truth has a well-known liberal bias.

  • David

    The problem here is that the report doesn’t contextualize the information.  Why would Politifact pick so many Republicans?  It was an election year, or did everyone including the investigators forget that?  What we got was Republicans lying their pants off (metaphorically speaking) to get elected and break the “horrible” situation the US found itself in: a government run by the Democrats on all levels.  The Dems didn’t really lie that that much during their two years they just could do anything so there were no lies for Politifact to analyze. 

  • TheRightIsWrong

    Ha!  How is it politifact’s fault that Republicans lie 3 times as much as Democrats?  Just like a right winger to think something is “biased” simply because it doesn’t blindly go along with them!

    • Anonymous

      Didn’t you know? Facts have a liberal bias.

  • Hrmf!

    “[A] supermajority of falsehoods …– 76 percent – were attributed to Republicans, with just 22 percent of such statements coming from Democrats.” Sounds about right to me: Both parties lie/misrepresent/bend the truth, with Republicans doing it about three times as often.

  • Rhonda

    Why would anyone assume that is biased, or that it’s supposed to be equal?  Fact is, Republicans lie more than Democrats.

  • youcantstandthetruth

    Hey Dan, when is your next appearance on fake news?

  • cecil91

    But of course; a person would have to be a complete, unadulterated moron to think that either the Oregonian or PolitiFact are truthsayers. It is within the hoary halls of leftwing journalism that the addiction to “makin’ stuff up” was nurtured.
    One of my favorite examples of obvious bias was when the Oregonian ran with an accusation of infidelity against 2008 Presidential candidate McCain and put it on the front page. It was later debunked.
    But when 2008 Democrat candidate John Edwards was admittedly involved in an extramarital affair and faced felony charges, the Oregonian put it all the back pages. Bias at the Oregonian runs BONE DEEP.

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