I mostly like Politifact. I like that someone had the excellent idea of rating political statements. This is essential in our current political times, when the GOP and its surrogates have not only re-invented the art of political doublespeak, they have reached new
heights lows when it comes to distorting the truth.
Politifacts’ rating scale consists of: True, Mostly True, Half-True, Mostly False, False, and Pants On Fire. I have a real problem with the “Pants On Fire” label. For a website that received the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, this label, which is pegged on the most outrageously false statements, is just too cute and, of course, when I say “cute” I mean totally inadequate.
Take a look at these Pants On Fire statements from the Politifacts’ website:
Mitt Romney: “Under President Obama: $4,000 tax hike on middle-class families,” and “Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
Government Is Not Good Pac: “Barack Hussein Obama will…force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies.”
Americans For Tax Reform: “Says Obama sent $450 million to China to build a wind farm in Texas.”
Rush Limbaugh: “Obamacare is…the largest tax increase in the history of the world.”
Now, do you seriously think that the above statements deserve to be called out with half of the children’s playground taunt: Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire? Why are we using this childish label to describe the worst lies and propaganda? These statements confuse, mislead and manipulate the electorate in highly inflammatory ways. Politifact should condemn this kind of statements and those who make them.
In order to do so, Politifact needs to drop the “Pants On Fire” label and come up with a more appropriate one, one that packs a real punch. I can think of a couple of suggestions. How about “Scumbag Talk”? Or, if that one is too aggressive, “Worst Bullshit Ever.”
I’m pretty sure that if Politifact were to adopt a more consequential term, politicians and their surrogates would think twice before opening their mouths to cloud our judgment and pollute our political landscape.
What do you think? Do you have any suggestions to replace “Pants On Fire”? I welcome them.