AJC Politifact Attempts to Spin Away Centrist Voting Records
(APN) ATLANTA — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper’s Politifact section, which features a purported “Truth-o-meter,” has in recent months, functioned more as a “Spin-o-meter” when it comes to candidates’ voting records.
In two specific “rulings,” Politifact has attempted to cast doubt on progressive Democratic candidates’ claims that their centrist opponents–specifically, former State Rep. Elena Parent (D-Chamblee) and former State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell)–have taken controversial votes.
On May 13, 2014, Politifact rated a claim by Kyle Williams, candidate for the Democratic nomination for State Senate District 42, that his opponent, former Rep. Parent, supported a Republican plan to make drastic cuts to the HOPE Scholarship, to be “FALSE.”
However, Parent did vote to cut the HOPE Scholarship. Therefore, it is the AJC’s reporting that is “FALSE.”
But that did not stop Parent from using the AJC article to her advantage.
“Dear Friend, Last week I told you about the misleading attack mailers my opponent sent to voters throughout our district. Well, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politifact team just looked into it and their verdict? ‘We rate Williams’ claim FALSE,’” Parent wrote in a May 13 campaign email.
On May 16, her campaign sent out a press release entitled, “Kyle Williams Continues to Lie About Democrat Elena Parent’s Record.” However, Williams was telling the truth. It was Parent who lied, aided and abetted by the AJC.
The claim at issue was Williams’s statement in a flyer about Parent: “Supported Governor Nathan Deal’s plan to slash the HOPE Scholarship. The HOPE Scholarship has allowed a generation of Georgians the opportunity to afford college. There’s no excuse for Parent’s vote to limit these opportunities and hurt our children’s futures.”
Rep. Parent DID vote for the Republican plan to cut the HOPE Scholarship, in House Vote 77 during the 2011-2012 Legislative Session.
Yet, the AJC somehow thinks that because some other House Democrats also voted for the Republican plan to cut the HOPE Scholarship, that somehow it is false that Parent voted the way she did.
The AJC notes that Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) and others had secured some minor compromises from Republicans, and that she and other Democrats supported the legislation in exchange for those compromises.
However interesting as that may be, it only adds context to Parent’s vote, it does not change the fact that she voted the way she did, and it certainly does not make it “FALSE” to say that Parent voted to cut the HOPE Scholarship.
Then, in a second article on May 27, Politifact rated a claim by Valarie Wilson, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Georgia School Superintendent, regarding Rep. Morgan’s voting record to be “HALF TRUE.”
Again, the AJC said that it was only HALF TRUE that Rep. Morgan voted to make cuts to a program for disabled preschoolers and another scholarship program for special needs students, even though she clearly voted yes, twice.
The AJC admits that they “were able to confirm that Wilson is technically right.”
“In summary, Wilson is correct that Morgan voted for an amended state budget for 2010 that included cuts to the preschool disabled program and a scholarship program for special needs students. But a lot of context is needed to understand the claim,” the AJC wrote.
That context, the AJC writes, is that Gov. Sonny Perdue had asked Legislators to come up with some 1.2 billion dollars in cuts, and that cuts were made across most, if not all, agencies and departments.
The AJC notes as additional context that legislators rarely attempt to amend legislation on the floor.
However, Morgan could still have voted no. She voted yes. And yet the AJC rules Wilson’s statement about Morgan voting yes as “half true.”
It is the AJC’s ruling that is misleading, however, because the additional context cited by the AJC does not take away from the truth of the matter.
And through its misleading rulings, the AJC arms the candidates who benefits from the rulings with ammunition to attack their opponents.
So, it should be no surprise that on May 27, Morgan sent out an email called “A Half Truth is a Whole Lie.”
“When teaching my daughter about right and wrong, I am often reminded of the Yiddish Proverb: ‘A half truth is a whole lie,’” Morgan wrote.
“My opponent’s half truth is a whole lie. My opponent does a disservice to the voters and the students of Georgia by making false and misleading claims… My opponent’s campaign focuses on falsely attacking me. Georgia voters deserve better. Georgia deserves leaders who are honest and truthful,” Morgan wrote.
But there never was a half truth, except for the AJC’s ruling itself.