December 24th, 2014
Episode 95 of 256 episodes
‘Tis the season for the year-end list. And we thought it fitting that our contribution to this mainstay of holiday journalism be the best political lies of 2014 - from tiny truth-stretching fibs to all out, no-shame whoppers. To help us in our task, we turned to our friends at Politifact , the Pulitzer Prize- winning independent journalism Website that fact-checks statements from the White House, Congress, candidates, advocacy groups and pundits. Politifact uses very complex, purpose-built technology to rate these statements, the Truth-O-Meter. It has a scale that runs from “true” to “pants on fire” – as in “ liar, liar...” The Truth-O-Meter’s needle also can point to half-true, mostly-true, mostly-false and false. Politifact selected 10 finalists for 2014 lie of the year. Angie Drobnic Holan is the editor of Politifact and she said some of the selections probably sound pretty familiar. “Global warming is a hoax, ” was said by South Louisiana congressional candidate Lenar Whitney in a campaign video. “It is just a strategy designed to give more power to the executive branch while increasing taxes in a progressive stream to regulate every aspect of American life," Whitney said in the video. “We’ve fact-checked global warming for years now,” Politifact’s Holan said. “It’s not a hoax, it is real. Every time we look at it there is more evidence that says global warming is happening and its being caused by human activity.” Another favorite this year, President Obama’s statement during a recent news conference in Australia that his position on immigration action through executive orders “hasn't changed.” As far as the editors at Politifact were concerned, the president was attempting to revise history. “We went back and looked at all of the statements and his position had clearly changed” Holan said. They gave this one a “false” rating. Why not pants on fire? “The definition for false is the statement is not accurate, the definition for pants on fire is the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim, ” she explained. Another immigration-related statement rises to the top of Politifact’s worst lies of 2014, this one involved ISIS or The Islamic State. The terrorist group has brutally killed thousands of people in Iraq and Syria and displaced hundreds of thousands in the region. But here’s something it hasn’t done as far as the Politifact people can tell – attempted to cross the Mexico border into Texas. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, made this comment about the Border Patrol capturing ISIS fighters on Fox News in October. The staff of Politafact checked with federal authorities, state authorities and ultimately rated this one a pants on fire statement. “It seems to be something he got from partisan Websites that were using anonymous sources” Holan said. (Note to saavy citizens: Beware the anonymous sources.) If you want to hear about Politfact’s lie of the year…well, listen to the podcast or you can cheat and check out their website. [Also on the podcast: A missed chance to limit police chokeholds] Want to keep up with all the latest DecodeDC stories and podcasts? Sign up for our weekly newsletter at decodedc.com/newsletter.