US politicians, ranked by their willingness to lie

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Is this methodology perfect? No way. Is it a vast improvement on the false equivalence of “everyone does it?” Hell yes. I’m glad to see Politifact stepping up and doing this kind of aggregate name-and-shame. It will absolutely impact culture – and “quit saying occasionally ridiculous shit, regardless of whether this particular audience wants to hear it” is a small but very welcome pressure point.

The authors will, no doubt, get thrashed over methodology, as they have been since the beginning. Some of that will be useful, and make their tools better.

This is good journalism. We’re going to need it.


Why is Bill Clinton on the list? He’s not running for anything!


More important, I see accurate information becoming more available and easier for voters to find. By that measure, things are pretty good.

But still people rarely use those primary sources. They instead rely on one-liners and re-post on Facebook those that agree with the prejudices without regard to whether or not they are true. For example, in the recent controversy over Justice Scalia’s statement how many people read the transcript which is available on the USSC web site? People, in general, don’t check facts. They just believe what suits them.


Mmmmaybe. I agree that it’s good to see, but, it was publiished in that “librul rag” the New York Times. So a LOT of people will dismiss it.

If they even hear about it. I doubt CNN (let alone FOX) is going to cover this kind of aggregate name-and-shame.


I’d also say that a lot of what politifact’s ‘half true’ rating isn’t a very useful one.

A distinction between “approximately true” and “designed to mislead” would be useful. With an approximately true sound byte one could look up the exact info and find that while the short sound bite is not exactly literally true it is either probably literally true or literally true with a bit of rounding off and the exact info does support the point made. With a “designed to mislead” sound bite you will find that while a loose reading of the bite does fit the exact info the exact info does not support the point made.

Approximately true statements are like “X has not increased in ten years” and it turns out X is actually up 3%, vs 50% for the previous ten years and the ten before that. Politifact will say “half true”, but in reality compared with the previous time period X is basically unchanged, and the full description does not fit into a sound bite.

A common type of ‘designed to mislead’ sound bites is to inappropriately emphasize nominal numbers vs percent of some base numbers. Nominal numbers often go up due to population growth, gdp growth, inflation, etc. They are inappropriate for many long term comparisons. Any statistic positively correlated with one that constantly grows tends to set new record highs very frequently. The nominal number mentioned is often literally correct, but a full understanding of it does not support the point made. Politifact will say “half true” for many such sound bites.


The campaigns can make it an issue – ads, debates, gifs – when it suits them. Speechwriter and strategy consultants will avoid getting their work on that particular scoreboard. Small steps.


First Lady Presidential Legal Partner.


Then why aren’t Carly’s hubby and the other wives on the list? Just seems odd to me.


They are not ex-Presidents.


I like how they swapped Bush with Biden. They both had the same score, but put Biden on top, or else ALL of the Democrats will look more truthful than ANY of the Republicans. (Of course it could just be a 50/50 chance, but it also happens to reinforce the last shred of “both sides do it!”)


US politicians: Ben Carson?

He is a carnival show at best and a complete imbecile at worst, see “Hamas, not hummus”. This guy used to rummage around inside human skulls, apparently as a brain surgeon.


I think it is pretty dang funny that Bill Clinton encouraged The Donald to run, thus setting the stage for his wife’s victory. Once the clown car settles on their candidate (I bet Rubio after a brokered convention with an outside chance of The Donald) and the '16 campaign begins in earnest, wait for the big dog to slip his leash and bring the noise to the GOPers. He connects with the blue collar worker, he can articulate big complex problems in ways the clown car simply cannot. The campaign begins when he comes off the sidelines. wait for it… And he’ll be a hell of a First Dude (like being vice prez but without all the baggage).

Hell I’d give him a hummer if we could go back to the economy of the 1990s!


Like Bernie and Hillary below, I think in case of ties they based the order on the size of the next bar, the tan “False” statements.

In any case, it would have been nice if the sorting were interactive. This is ranked by “number of statements ‘Mostly False’ or worse,” but I’d like to sort by “Half-false or worse,” for example. Amazingly, Bernie and Hillary are the only politicians in the list with fewer than 50% of their statements “Half-false or worse.”


Deliberately or not, Trump is - must avoid the obvious cliché here - a good friend to the Democrats. “Hey, Muslims, Hispanics, black Americans, gay people…Trump has been telling you what Republicans believe but nobody but him dares to say…”


It’s interesting to rank them by the other metric, too - “willingness to tell the truth.”

In that light, Bernie is the winner, followed by Hillary and her husband. Jeb and Barack come in the same, and next in line is Rand Paul.

Comparing “pants on fire” amounts is also interesting. Trump is INSANE, but Fiorina and Carson are no slouches there, either. Graham (who recently told the Reps that they were getting too bonkers to be electable) doesn’t seem to ping there, and neither does Bernie or Martin O’Malley.

All politicians (all people, especially public people) deceive, but not all deceive equally, and not all deceptions are the same awfulness.


Interesting. Source please?

A third metric - “Apparently unwillingness to really say anything meaningful” is less interesting because all it does is points out why I don’t really know who Martin O’Malley is.

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Well they both deny it now (of course), but a few well chosen words of encouragement (recall Trump ran in 2012, did he run in 2008?) and we have Trump exposing the rather unpleasant id of the right wing.

Three Trump aides and one Clinton aide supposedly confirmed the conversation took place. Bill denies he encouraged The Donald to run (snicker). Well played sir, well played!


I’ll agree with @jeff_fisher, a lot of what they call “half-true” is actually flat-out false, but they don’t want to piss off the speaker.