Accuracy in Media

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a pro-free market oriented non-profit organization affiliated with the Koch network of organizations, released an ad critical of incumbent Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin. In the ad, Freedom Partners highlighted how Baldwin had voted for at least $5 million in tax increases and published a counter-fact-check after receiving criticism from the Left, the Wisconsin Democratic Party, a Democratic Party-aligned PAC and PolitiFact.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party called the ad a “smear campaign” against Baldwin, without offering much of a factual rebuttal. The left-aligned Senate Majority PAC slammed the ad, as well.

PolitiFact Wisconsin took the task to attempt to defend Baldwin, but failed to do so even after calling the Freedom Partners ad “half-true.” PolitiFact changed parts of a past fact-check of Baldwin’s voting record on tax increases to criticize the Freedom Partners ad. Specifically, PolitiFact equated “tax increases” to a new term, “tax collections,” without explaining the change from “increases” to “collections.”

Freedom Partners’ counter-fact-check of PolitiFact pointed this out, and added that the disputed number of tax increases could actually exceed the $5 million figure due to effects from expiring Bush-era tax cuts.

It is early in the Wisconsin Senate race for 2018, but the lack of liberal media coverage of PolitiFact’s bungling of simple mathematics is confounding. With a media focused on truth and fact-checking, one would think that this would stand out in what looks to be a contentious 2018 midterm election cycle.

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