Fact Checking the Fact Checkers
PolitiFact calls Full Frontal “Mostly True,” no mention of “Really Funny”
In their May 25th fact check of our piece, “Miami Rights,” PolitiFact rated the segment “Mostly True”. As nerdy perfectionists who pride ourselves on our fact-checking prowess, a rating of “Mostly True” felt “Mostly Great” but not “Totally Great”. In light of this, we decided to fact check their fact check of our story. Below are our findings:
Our “Miami Rights” segment spotlighted a Florida measure that, if it gets on the ballot and passes, will restore voting rights to some felons who have served their sentences. Currently, any person convicted of any felony in Florida will lose the right to vote, which seems extreme given that living in Florida is already punishment enough.
The fact check in question focused on three crimes we identified in the piece as felonies in Florida: buying weed, tampering with an odometer, and disturbing a lobster trap.
People who are convicted of these felonies in Florida lose the right to vote because this is true of all felonies in Florida. PolitiFact acknowledged our point, writing, “Bee’s big point: Felons in Florida aren’t just axe murderers.” (Oh, and, for what it’s worth, convicted axe murderers would not get the right to vote were this particular measure to get on the ballot and pass. Unfunny, feminist battle axes would not be affected.)
After stating in the piece that buying weed, tampering with an odometer and disturbing a lobster trap are all felonies in Florida, we then made the funny joke, “basically spring break.” We confirmed with our fact checker that this joke was both grounded in reality — you might actually buy weed on your spring break — and heightened by absurdity — you would likely not tamper with an odometer or molest a lobster trap, but it would be pretty funny if you did. Therefore, our fact checker can confirm that this joke is “Really Funny.” PolitiFact was nowhere to be found on this analysis. Stay focused, media.
PolitiFact confirmed our assertion that each of these crimes is, in fact, a felony, but added the caveat that not many people are charged with felonies for the latter two crimes. This is true, but unfortunately there is no “silly felonies” workaround for the law. The fact check also added that possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, which we did not discuss but are very pleased to learn. Thanks! (To add some context to PolitiFact’s context, 20 grams of marijuana is less than an ounce, which, according to our painstaking research, could easily be plowed through during a single spring break.)
PolitiFact rated the segment as “Mostly True,” with the “clarifying note” that possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Because we never discussed possession of small amounts of marijuana in the sentence-long joke in question, we rate this fact check “Slightly Misleading, But Flattered You Fact Checked Us.” We also point out that our fact checker is single and has a lot of weed (or had, before the aforementioned painstaking research.)
Bonus fact check:
PolitiFact’s bio on Samantha Bee claims that “Full Frontal” airs on CBS.
We submitted this claim to our fact checker for verification. Her research determined that many shows do air on CBS: The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Hawaii Five-0, 48 Hours: NCIS, Criminal Minds, NCIS: New Orleans, Kevin Can Wait, and NCIS: Los Angeles. None of these, however, is the show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which airs on TBS. CBS and TBS are different networks belonging to different parent companies. We also reviewed our paychecks which further support the conclusion that we are definitely not on network TV. So we rate the claim that “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” is on CBS “FALSE”.