Something Odd Emerges When Fact Checking The "Fact Checkers"

The American electorate has never been more divided with people having wide ranging opinions on which party/candidate would be best for the future of the country.  Certainly economic and other facts help guide those opinions but, in the end, the decision is also based on the subjective views of each voter.  

But, for Politifact, apparently even the facts are subjective and based on party affiliation.  Take the following example:

On July 6, 2015, Bernie Sanders made the following comment about Black youth unemployment in the United States:

"For young people who have graduated high school or dropped out of high school, who are between the ages of 17 and 20, if they happen to be white, the unemployment rate is 33 percent.  If they are Hispanic, the unemployment rate is 36 percent. If they are African-American, the real unemployment rate for young people is 51 percent."

Shortly after that comment was made, Politifact decided to "fact check" Bernie's assertion that black youth unemployment was sky high and found that it was "Mostly True."

Sanders said that for African-Americans between the ages of 17 and 20, "the real unemployment rate … is 51 percent." His terminology was off, but the numbers he used check out, and his general point was correct -- that in an apples-to-apples comparison, African-American youth have significantly worse prospects in the job market than either Hispanics or whites do. The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, so we rate it Mostly True.

The problem is that when Donald Trump made a similar assertion at a rally on June 11, 2016, Politifact's "fact checking" analysis had a slightly different conclusion.  Here is what Trump said:

"If you look at what’s going on in this country, African-American youth is an example: 59 percent unemployment rate; 59 percent."

But this time around Politifact claimed that "Trump exaggerates" the level of black youth unemployment through a "misleading use of statistics."  Politifact concludes that Trumps comments are therefore "Mostly False."

The unemployment rate is a widely used term with a specific definition: It refers to the percentage of jobless people in the workforce who are actively seeking employment. In May, the unemployment rate for blacks ages 16 to 24 was 18.7 percent, or less than one-third of Trump’s claim.

Wait, now it is 18.7% when Politi"fact" said a year prior that Benie's 51% claim was "mostly true?"

Interesting.

Both candidates were referring to studies like the one below from the Economic Policy Institute which attempt to find true unemployment rates based on the number of people employed to the total population adjusted for those still enrolled in continuing education.  On this basis, true white youth unemployment is in the mid-30s while black youth unemployment is in the low-50s after hovering around 60% for several years.

Unemployment by Race

Politifact was able to "recall" this study when "fact checking" Bernie but, like Hillary in an FBI interview, they "did not recall" the study when fact checking Trump. 

We rate Politifact's fact-checking Mostly Biased.