PolitiFact Helper: Tim Ryan 'Mostly True,' J.D. Vance 'Mostly False' in Ohio Senate Race

September 18th, 2022 7:03 AM

Keep an eye on how PolitiFact uses its "Truth-O-Meter" in the congressional races this fall. It's going to be obvious that they'll "finesse" their so-called "independent fact-checking" in favor of the Democrats, as they typically do.

Take the Ohio Senate race: this is how Democrat congressman Tim Ryan has been rated over the years: 12 "True" or "Mostly True" ratings, two "Half Trues," and one "Pants On Fire" rating back in 2011. That's basically a 12-to-1 True tilt. 

By contrast, PolitiFact has five evaluations of Republican J.D. Vance: one "Mostly True," versus one "Mostly False," two "Falses," one "Pants on Fire." That's a 4-to-1 False tilt. And the Mostly True is from 2018. It's all False this year.

On Saturday, PolitiFact's Twitter account touted a Tim Ryan "Mostly True" check they did: 

An hour later, they touted a Tim Ryan "Half True" check they did, which still casts Vance in a negative light: 

On Saturday afternoon, PolitFact tweeted on the race again, touting a "Mostly False" slam they did on Vance, also on the defund-police front: 

Now these two "defund" tweets really establish the way PolitiFact shapes the Play-Doh.

Ryan got a "Half True" for a TV ad where a sheriff claims "J.D.’s plan to eliminate an agency that combats violent drug traffickers" and a message on the screen says "J.D. Vance wants to defund law enforcement." In other words, Vance saying he wants to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is metaphorically expanded to all "law enforcement." That's not "Half True." It's mudslinging. 

Vance drew a "Mostly False" for telling NewsNation "Tim Ryan called police the new Jim Crow, which I think is insulting to black Americans, but it’s also insulting to the police officers who are keeping communities of all colors safe."

Vance’s comment appears to refer to remarks the Ohio congressman made in 2019, when running for president. But in that appearance at a town hall, Ryan did not single out or even mention the police in relation to Jim Crow. 

"I believe that the current criminal justice system is racist. I believe in my heart that it’s the new Jim Crow, a new version of it. We see it all the time across the board..."

Someone trying to be "independent" in this race would say these two claims are similarly imprecise, and therefore you would expect them to get the same "Truth-O-Meter" rating. But that's not how PolitiFact plays the game. You can even sense the bias in the headlines.

One was "Ohio’s JD Vance wants to defund a federal law enforcement agency, but not all police departments."

The other? "J.D. Vance distorts Tim Ryan’s words on the criminal justice system, Jim Crow comparison."

Conservatives would say comparing today's criminal justice system in America -- which has plenty of liberals in it -- to a viciously unjust and segregationist system in the old South is..."Pants on Fire."