Truth-o-meter fails again

I’ve noted before that the St. Petersburg Times’s “Truth-o-meter” is useless, as it grades largely on the politics of the speaker, rather than the truth of the statement. They rate true statements as false when they come from the right, and false statements as true when they come from the left.

The latest example comes in regard to Senator-elect Rand Paul’s (R-KY) statement:

The average federal employee makes $120,000 a year. The average private employee makes $60,000 a year.

The facts:

Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

So Paul is right. But not according to the “Truth-o-meter”, which rates Paul’s accurate statement as false. According to the St. Petersburg Times, we should be looking at pay only, not at total compensation. (ASIDE: Much of the discrepancy between federal and private employees comes from federal employees’ extremely generous benefits.) Looking at total compensation (i.e., what the employees actually cost) is an “exaggeration of the numbers”.

Keep in mind, if they wanted to argue the point, they have various intermediate ratings available to them: “mostly true”, “half true”, and “barely true”. Even “mostly true” would be a harsh judgement for an entirely accurate statement, but it would give them a hook to hang their nuance on. Calling it outright false is simply wrong.

(Via Mark Hemingway.)

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