Fact-checking PolitiFact’s review of the “War on coal”

Interesting post on the Watchdog.org website. They take a look at how PolitiFact “fact-checked” the war on coal during the recent election.

PolitiFact apparently made a big deal about the notion that the war on coal was an issue, created and contrived by the coal industry, to score political points during the election. PolitiFact published some Ohio jobs numbers, along with a quote from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, that appeared to disprove the notion that a war on coal existed. Brown had stated during the run up to the election,

There is no war on coal. Period. There are more coal jobs and more coal produced in Ohio than there were five years ago, in spite of the talking points and the yard signs.

PolitiFact’s review shows that they looked at Brown’s claim, the most recent production numbers, and the latest Ohio jobs numbers and then stated that Brown’s claim was “true” – meaning there was no war on coal.

However, the Watchdog post debunking PolitiFact’s thought process reveals how they have played fast and lose with the truth.

On the one hand, we congratulate PolitiFact for actually checking a fact – employment and production numbers. On the other, do you people really not understand why those two facts alone do not provide any basis for your conclusion? If half of Ohio’s electricity production is shutting down in two years, just when new regulations go into effect, what do 2007 job numbers have to do with anything?

If one takes a quick look at the PolitiFact website, they can see that the post has been updated with 2011 production and jobs numbers. However, the Watchdog critique still stands. If the war on coal will impact jobs and energy production as the new regulations and legislation come into force – over the next few years – how does looking at past data “prove” Brown’s claim to be true?

Any reasonable attempt to “fact-check” Brown’s statement and the industry claims of a war on coal would have to recognize the fact that the EPA Train Wreck is expected to come in the near future. So it would seem that PolitiFact might be engaging in the same type of truth-twisting and distortion that they were created to stop.

26. December 2012 by Jason Hayes
Categories: Energy, Jobs, Marketplace Information, Mining, Policy, Regulation | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Fact-checking PolitiFact’s review of the “War on coal”