For PolitiFact Oregon, "Technically Correct” Means “Mostly False”

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As it turns out, even we can still be surprised by the intellectual depths to which the Oregonian’s PolitiFact Oregon project can sink. Under the helm of publisher N. Christian Anderson III, PolitiFact has become a poorly disguised extension of his right-wing Editorial page.

The latest “ruling” from the PolitiFact team read like dispatches from Bizarro Planet, where up is down and yes means no—and “technically correct” means “mostly false.”

Over the weekend, the Oregonian ran a PolitiFact piece on Secretary of State Kate Brown’s comment about the multiple roles that the Secretary of State has in Oregon.

Here’s what she said: "Our neighbor to the north, the state of Washington, they elect a lieutenant governor, a secretary of state and a state auditor," Brown said in a May television interview. "I basically do all three of those jobs for less than the price of one of them."

(As a former staffer at the Secretary of State’s office under a different Secretary, I can attest to the truth of this. Oregon’s SOS runs many seemingly unrelated agencies: Elections, Auditing, Corporate Filings, Archives, just to name a few, plus sits on the State Land Board AND fills in as Acting Governor if the governor is ever incapacitated.)

PolitiFact Oregon took a look at Brown’s statement, compared her salary to other elected office holders in Washington, and deemed that “when Brown said she’s a threefer, essentially doing in one role what Washington elects three people to do, she’s technically correct. She selects the chief auditor, she is typically seen as the de facto lieutenant governor and, of course, she is Oregon’s secretary of state.”

So there you go. Her statement is correct, and that’s that. Right?

Not so fast. Remember that under Anderson’s watch, “facts” are less important than “twisting the truth and journalistic integrity in order to advance Anderson’s political ideology.”

So, instead, they rated her statement “Mostly False” (pretty much the exact opposite of “technically correct”) by introducing a bunch of facts that Brown never asserted, like the role of agency managers who work under the elected officials.

Anderson is clearly intent on driving away the last of his core readership by pushing the paper to the right so that it resembles papers like the Orange County Register and the Colorado Springs Gazette, the last two conservative newspapers he helmed. But he’s not content to leave his right-wing politics on the opinion page, and he’s now using reporters and fact-checkers to push his agenda.

Frankly, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the newspaper’s future is now more uncertain than ever.

Comments

As awful as the Oregonian's swerve to the right has been under the Anderson-Lukens watch, I still like getting a local paper. So one fear I have is that the O is becoming so out of touch with readers it will lose enough circulation to render itself extinct.

The Oregonian's clear editorial crusade spilling over into news content casts negative aspersions on fair and balanced reporting elsewhere. I resent their endless campaign against public unions, public schools, and PERS. However, I read Oregon Live online and still subscribe to the weekend paper. My thinking is that I need to know what the enemy is doing and thinking.

I stayed for a while when they took their right turn but it got so bad. I think the turning point was when they thought that Dudley not running any more was worth a full page front spread. Really right turn and away from me I quit! When they bugged me to re-up and offered half price, I said no to the right wing rag.

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