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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, February 04, 2011

Politi"Fact" at it again: Anything to attack public employees

by folkbum

I'm going to quote the end of today's Politi"Fact" column about Jim Sullivan, (folkbum-endorsed!) candidate for Milwaukee County Executive:
The would-be county executive claimed there’s only "one guy who is in charge of painting the entire Milwaukee County parks system." He’s the one as busy as that one-armed paper hanger. That comment was a pretty broad brush, since there may only be one full-time painter, but the parks use many private ones.

Sullivan’s claim was accurate, but leaves out important details. That’s the PolitiFact definition for Half True.
Let's unpack this a bit. First, Sullivan said that Milwaukee County has only one painter on staff for painting the Milwaukee County Parks--which Politi"Fact" confirms as being true. Sullivan gets his half-true rating, though, because he "leaves out important details," that the County uses private painters to get a lot of the painting done. Politi"Fact" asserts that since the information about private contractors is left out, Sullivan is telling a half-truth.

So now let's go to the beginning of today's column, this time with some emphasis added:
Sullivan also cited what he described as another example of bad privatization.

"It’s been brought to my attention we currently have one guy who is in charge of painting the entire Milwaukee County parks system," he told the Journal Sentinel on Jan. 31, 2011. "You hear the expression ‘busier than a one-armed paper hanger’ and this guy’s got to be a really busy guy."

Sullivan went on to say that if the county hired more employees to paint, they would be less expensive and more responsive than painters hired on contract.
Do you see the problem here? Politi"Fact" claims at the end--the part where they stamp their "half-true" label on him--that Sullivan left out the private painters from his statement. And yet at the beginning of the column, by their own admission, Sullivan included the private contractors!

This bald error is further complicated by the fact that Sullivan's point was not merely the single employee, or even that because there was a single employee that work was going undone or that our parks were utterly unpainted. Instead, Sullivan's whole argument is that the painting would be done cheaper if we didn't have to rely on private contractors--a claim that Politi"Fact" doesn't even bother to try to verify.

This is pretty easy to explain: The author, Tom Kertscher, and the editor, Greg Borowski, have a history of slanting their Politi"Fact" columns against public employees, actual facts be damned. It was not that long ago that we saw it plain as day in the case of Bryan Kennedy--he was held to a different standard for supporting public employees than Bob Donovan was when he attacked them.

But those were two separate columns weeks apart--easy enough for readers to forget and overlook the bias. But here, Kertscher contradicts himself completely within the space of a few paragraphs! This is malpractice at its finest, and Kertscher and Borowski should be ashamed for publishing this.

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