In a Mother Jones op-ed published Monday, writer Kevin Drum address the “honesty” issue that seems to plague Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Jones addresses Jim Geraghty’s own op-ed in The National Review, a far-right conservative magazine and website. Geraghty turns the screws on the Republicans’ campaign questioning Clinton’s ”honesty” and “trustworthiness.” But fact-checking shows that Hillary Clinton is, indeed, one of the more honest candidates still standing.
In Geraghty’s National Review piece, he states:
‘But we do know Hillary Clinton from almost three decades in the national political spotlight. And we know she lies when she’s cornered.’
Drum comes to the table with the admission that sometimes politicians lie, and sometimes they obscure facts and it looks like a lie. But he also comes to the table with facts, which can be awkward and uncomfortable obstacles for the far right when it comes to spinning a narrative that forwards their cause.
But let’s examine those facts.
Politifact is a well-known, Pulitzer Prize winning, non-partisan fact checking organization. The website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and politicians, and is run by editors from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida.
Politifact rated statements made by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as being more factual than those made by many other politicians, except for the current president, Barack Obama, according to the chart below from the Drum’s Mother Jones op-ed:
According to Politifact, Clinton’s statements rate at 50 percent as true or mostly true, with only 21 percent being “half true.” There’s no doubt that Clinton puts a bit of spin on her statements to make them more palatable to her potential voters. If these numbers seem even slightly disconcerting, read on.
Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, also scores well, with a 52 percent true or mostly true rating, and only 22 percent rated false or mostly false, with no statements receiving “Pants on Fire” false rating.
Let’s compare Hillary Clinton’s record with that of the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, whose Politifact rating is pretty scandalous.
Trump rates at only 15 percent for true or mostly true, with an additional 15 percent rated for “half true.” Trump barely bothers to “spin” anything and just flat out lies, with 37 percent of his claims being rated as false and 18 percent rated as “Pants on Fire” false. That indicates that a full 55 percent of what Trump has been saying to the press, on television, and during his campaign stops are just outright falsehoods.
His running mate, Mike Pence, is nearly as bad. The Republican Indiana governor and former congressman rates at a mere 20 percent for true or mostly true statements. He seems to be better at spin than Trump, as 30 percent of his public statements were found to be only “half true.” Although it seems that he hasn’t told any blatant lies on the campaign trail, a full 50 percent of his statements have been found to be either false or mostly false.
Earlier in the campaign, Politifact editor, Angie Drobnic Holan published an op-ed in The New York Times comparing the “honesty records” of candidates in the race, called “All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others.” The rating cards above are pretty good indicators of who those politicians are.
In her December 2015 summary comparing the records of the candidates, Holan noted that that a full three-quarters of Trumps statements were false or mostly false. She indicated that former candidate Marco Rubio, who has now decided to rerun for his Senate seat in Florida, rated at 40 percent false, mostly false, or “Pants on Fire” false. John Kasich, once the Republican Party’s only hope, rates slightly higher than Clinton in “truthfulness,” but since many of his “true statements” were about his own lack of popularity in his state of Ohio and the lack of media coverage for his campaign, it’s not clear how useful this rating is. Reluctant candidate Jeb Bush rated only 48 percent truthful.
Candidates from the Democratic Party were also rated, with Vermont senator Bernie Sanders rating 52 percent true or mostly true, with only 28 percent as false or mostly false. Former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley, who also threw his hat in the ring for a brief and shining moment, rated at only 23 percent false or mostly false, but his record of true and mostly true statements was only 22 percent. A full 56 percent of O’Malley’s public statements were simply half-truths.
Holan states that Politifact has continued to monitor statements made by Bill Clinton since the site’s inception in 2007, and found that his record is slightly better than President Barack Obama’s is. Politifact has given the former president and potential first First Gentleman an honesty rating of 48 percent, with an overall false rating of only 23 percent. Our current president, Barack Obama has been fact-checked by Politifact a total of 588 times to date. The president rated a 48 percent “truthful” rating, and a 26 percent false rating to date.
Rating card images via Politifact
Featured image via Getty Images