Barham misrepresented the facts
To the Editor:
Last month, Conservative columnist Lonnie Barham published an editorial taking issue with a judgment by Politi-Facts that checked the accuracy of a comment by Rep. Patricia Morgan, Republican from West Warwick. In a debate over TDI, she claimed 9 percent of Rhode Islanders used TDI as compared with only 3 percent in New Jersey. Mrs. Morgan says she got her facts from Ken Block Moderate Party Candidate.
Politi-facts judged the remarks, “Mostly False” partly because the best available figures are 8% for RI vs 4% for New Jersey but mostly because the two states have very different TDI programs. Unlike Rhode Island, New Jersey employers are given the option of buying private insurance. That’s important because in order to judge the difference between the two states one would have to add those collecting on New Jersey private insurance to those collecting on the New Jersey state system to find the total number of those collecting.
But those figures are not available, and without those figures there cannot be an apples to apples comparison. The article makes that clear, and for those two reasons the article judged the statement by Mrs. Morgan “Mostly False”
Into the fray jumps Mr. Barham, who completely misunderstands the PolitiFacts article falsely making it seem as if Mrs. Morgan’s statement is being judged as false simply because she said 9 percent of Rhode Islander use TDI while the facts support 8 percent.
He further misrepresents the article when the authors say, “She said people who take TDI in Rhode Island are using it for an average of 11.4 weeks. The average duration was actually 11.2 weeks.”
Mr. Barham makes it sound as if this were one of the major reasons Rep. Morgan’s statement was declared Mostly False. In fact, it’s not. The very line about average duration begins with the phrase, “Morgan was off a bit.” Read the word “Bit” – that was clearly an aside from the main point and the writers made that clear.
Nevertheless, Mr. Barham uses gross misrepresentations to attack PolitiFacts as being “little more than a fact manipulator for leftist and union backed politicians.” Once again the right wing sense of media persecution and unfair treatment rears its head, even as Mr. Barham himself, completely misrepresents what was said.
If PolitiFacts is such a “left wing fact manipulator,” then perhaps Mr. Barham can explain the “Mostly True” judgment they gave to that very same Ken Block for a statement that the system he developed for “detecting welfare fraud has saved nearly $1 billion dollars.” PolitiFacts also gave Mr. Block “Mostly True” rating when he said, “Eleven state legislatures meet for three months and five meet biannually.”
Can Mr. Morgan can find further evidence on Politifacts left wing bias in their ruling that the US Rep. David Cicillini’s (D) claim that “83% of income is subject to Social Security tax down from 90% historically” is Mostly False.
Ah, those pesky facts!