Publisher's note: This post, by Leah Byers, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
Politifact NC has outdone itself this time. In an incredible act of acrobatics, the so-called "fact checkers" bent over backwards this week in order to simultaneously protect Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from facing the political ramifications of his actions and take shots at the Republican leadership of the state legislature.
Gov. Cooper vetoed a stand-alone teacher pay raise bill on November 8. That same day, state House Representative and chairman of the Rules Committee, Rep. David Lewis (Harnett) stated via social media
that Cooper had vetoed every teacher pay raise that the legislature had passed during his time as governor.
Lewis's statement is true and an inarguable fact. Yet Politifact NC, in a report published on November 19
, rated the claim as "Half True," the middle ranking on the Politifact scale.
In addition to the stand-alone bill, Cooper has vetoed all three of the state budgets passed during his first term, which all contained pay increases for teachers. There is no other teacher pay raise bill that has been presented to Cooper. Thus, he vetoed all of the teacher pay raises he has seen. Seems straightforward enough, right?
The explanation of their rating speaks for itself:
- Lewis said Cooper has vetoed 'every single teacher pay raise we've ever passed.' While this is technically accurate, it suggests that Cooper opposes teacher pay raises - which isn't true.
- In fact, Cooper vetoed the proposed raises in hopes of securing more money for educators. And his approval of step raises shows he's not blocking teachers from the money they're owed.
- The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details that might give the public a different impression of the situation. We rate this claim Half True."
Apparently, facts aren't enough for PolitiFACT to rate something as true. Their personal interpretations and agenda clearly account for at least half of their ratings, given that Lewis's completely true statement was only able to get him to a 50 percent score.
In today's click-bait and fake news culture, fact-checking is a weighty responsibility. It would be a true public service, if done with integrity and without bias. It's a shame that the fact checkers consistently have to be fact checked.