By Jon Cassidy | Ohio Watchdog
PolitiFact Ohio practices opinion journalism under the guise of fact-checking. They often get things wrong — particularly, we’ve noticed, in their coverage of U.S. senate candidates Sherrod Brown (Democrat) and Josh Mandel (Republican). So we bring you PolitiFact or Fiction, a semi-regular review of pronouncements issued by PolitiFact Ohio, a blog run by staff at the Cleveland Plain Dealer and supported by Politifact.com, a franchise of the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While PolitiFact rakes Republican Josh Mandel over the coals, it rates the softballs thrown to Democrat Sherrod Brown.
Last August, it fact-checked a bit of baseball banter Brown engaged in on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Who could object to such fun?
Here’s the problem: PolitiFact presents itself as “a tremendous database of independent journalism” that calculates a political official or candidate’s “batting average” for honesty, so throwing fat pitches to just one side isn’t exactly fair.
Here’s Democrat Brown’s claim, which got a rating of “true”:
Rooting for the Red Sox is like rooting for the drug companies. I mean it’s like they have so much money, they buy championships against the working-class, middle-America Cleveland Indians. It’s just the way you are.
Reporter Tom Feran rightly noted that the quip was an homage to another famous line, that “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel.”
Now that was an appropriate analogy — comparing a dominant, nearly monopolistic corporation to a sports team with the market power to crush its rivals.
But Brown didn’t pick a dominant pharmaceutical company for his comparison. He picked all pharmaceutical companies, as though we should root against an entire industry because of its size.
If his analogy were given as one of multiple choices on the SAT, it would be a wrong answer. The correct answer would be the one that compared a competitor to the rest of its field, not the one that disparaged a whole field of competition.
And that’s why Brown’s claim deserves no courtesy for its inaccuracy: the remark is not anti-monopoly, but anti-competition. In his view, for-profit companies that invent and sell crucial products for low prices are evil.
If his protectionist principles were applied to baseball, the Yankees would get two outs per inning to compensate for their unfair superiority, and their use of the DH would be subject to Cleveland’s approval of labor and environmental conditions in New York.
The fact-checkers at PolitiFact may come to a different opinion, but that’s all it is.
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