In today's "Careful What You Ask For" segment, liberal publisher Arianna Huffington is crying at her website because the folks at PolitiFact didn't back up her claim that Halliburton has defrauded American taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq.
Making this most delicious, Huffington asked to be fact-checked by the group!
For those that have forgotten, the former outspoken conservative was a guest on ABC's "This Week" on June 6 when she get into the following squabble with Liz Cheney (video and transcript follow with commentary, relevant section at 7:30):
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Right here, we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism. Halliburton involved in this, and we haven't said about that. They after all were responsible for cementing the well. Here's Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars --
LIZ CHENEY: Arianna, I don't know what planet you live on, but that's not --
HUFFINGTON: -- it's involved again. I'm living on this planet. You're living in a planet that is --
CHENEY: -- it's -- Arianna, what you're saying --
HUFFINGTON: -- continuing --
CHENEY: -- has no relationship to --
HUFFINGTON: It is completely --
CHENEY: No relationship to the effects --
HUFFINGTON: -- Halliburton was involved in this. How can you say it is not?
TAPPER: Well, Halliburton was cementing the pipe.
HUFFINGTON: How can you say Halliburton has no relationship?
CHENEY: Her assertion that Halliburton defrauded the U.S. government --
HUFFINGTON: It did. It did.
CHENEY: It was Bush-Cheney cronyism is the left talking point --
HUFFINGTON: It was -- hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq.
CHENEY: Arianna, is absolutely not true. It is absolutely not true.
HUFFINGTON: OK, I'm so glad Politifact is going to be checking this. I'm so glad.
On June 9, PolitiFact acceded to her request:
In evaluating Huffington's statement, we're most bothered by her use of the word "defrauded." Some of the overbilling in Iraq appears to have been done from haste or inefficiency, or even in a desire to please military officials in the field without regard for cost. Whether the waste in contracting constitutes fraud is still being examined.
"It's a lot money being spent in a region of the world where we don't have a lot of infrastructure for accounting for how the money is being spent. It will take years before we fully determine how we spent the money," said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
In ruling on Huffington's statement, we find much in the public record to support her statement, most notably the Justice Department lawsuit. Certainly there have been hundreds of millions of dollars that Halliburton's KBR attempted to charge the government that have been denied. Government audits of KBR's work in Iraq will likely continue for some time, and we do not expect a final accounting on these fronts anytime soon. Huffington glossed over some of these points in her back and forth with Liz Cheney. There's also much evidence that makes us believe that hundreds of millions of dollars were lost to waste and inefficiency, not deceitful fraud. So we rate Huffington's statement Half True.
Almost a month later, Huffington is whining about it at her website:
After equivocating her case, Huffington concluded:
Whenever I speak about the future of media, I get the most positive reaction when I talk about the urgent need to create an online tool that makes it possible to instantly fact-check politicians and commentators as they speak (a bubble pops up, containing the actual facts supporting or contradicting what's been said). Truth 2.0.
That's why I had such high hopes when it was announced that PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking project of the St. Petersburg Times, was going to evaluate the truthfulness of statements made each Sunday an ABC's This Week. It wasn't going to be instant, but it was a step in the right direction.
Then my dust-up with Liz Cheney on the show last month was given the PolitiFact treatment -- and I saw firsthand why the pursuit of Truth 2.0 is going to be harder than we think.
PolitiFact's finding that my statement that Halliburton had defrauded American taxpayers of "hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq" was "Half True" -- after first documenting example after example of why it was completely true -- was an object lesson in equivocation, and a prime exhibit of the kind of muddled thinking that dominates Washington and allows the powerful to escape accountability.
Despite the ludicrousness of the Half True rating -- and since I was in the final throes of finishing my new book -- I let it stand, feeling that the absurdity of PolitiFact first making my case for me, then falling back on the safety of a split-the-baby conclusion spoke for itself.
Then, over the weekend, I read this entry detailing PolitiFact's readers' reaction to the Half True finding. Rummaging through its Mailbag, PolitiFact quoted three readers who said I was right (while castigating the site for "rhetorical tap-dancing" and "falling victim to the ills of pious fairness"), one who said I was wrong, and one who thought Half True was "right on."
Because this kind of hedging-your-bets thinking runs rampant in our media and political circles, and allows the corrupt no-accountability status quo to continue wreaking havoc on our country -- and with my book at the printers, and a long weekend on my hands -- I've decided it's worth returning to the scene of the crime to do a little CSI exam of the evidence and see what we can conclude from PolitiFact's head-scratching conclusion.
Which is why I'd like to borrow two of the busiest letters of the day, and take this BP: Beyond PolitiFact. In the end, this is not about me, or Liz Cheney, or even Halliburton. It's about our accountability double standard. It's actually not that complex, nor is it ambiguous. It's plainly obvious and the American people know it. And the refusal of our political and media leaders to acknowledge it is contributing to the widespread anger and cynicism sweeping the country right now. [...]
As long as we allow truth backed up by a mountain of evidence to be, in the name of "pious fairness," downgraded to Half True, that's the way the planet we're all living on is going to continue to operate. And that's a fact.
I guess she's no longer "so glad Politifact is going to be checking" her!
In the end, Huffington asked PolitiFact to assess the veracity of her statement. They complied, and came to the conclusion that she was only half right.
And like a true liberal, she whined about it claiming that it's an example of everything that's wrong with the world.
Don't you love how the mind of a liberal media elite works?