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PolitiFact Parent Tampa Bay Times Scores ‘Pants on Fire’ for Partisan Bias


The Tampa Bay Times, which produces the PolitFact Truth-o-Meter, has not endorsed a single Republican candidate this century for any of the three most important positions on the Florida election ballot. Accordingly, the Times scores a “Pants on Fire” for its lack of objectivity, according to an extensive analysis by Media Trackers Florida.

Since 2000, the Times has issued 10 endorsements in elections for U.S. President, U.S. Senate, and Florida Governor. Nine of the 10 endorsements went to Democrats, with the sole exception being the Times’ endorsement of Democrat-leaning Independent Charlie Crist in the 2010 U.S. Senate contest.

The Times’ Democrat bias is perhaps most apparent in its endorsement of Bill McBride in the 2002 Florida Governor election. After picking up substantial Democrat and Independent support in a landslide 11-percentage point victory over Democrat Buddy MacKay in the 1998 gubernatorial election, Republican Jeb Bush earned high grades and bipartisan respect in his first term as governor. As a result, Bush cruised to an even larger 13-percentage point landslide victory in his 2002 reelection bid against Democrat Bill McBride. Despite Bush’s strong record and bipartisan support, the Times stayed true to its Democrat partisanship and endorsed McBride.

The Times’ political bias appears to dictate the rulings handed out by its PolitiFact Florida project. A self-proclaimed political referee, PolitiFact Florida tilts its “Truth-o-Meter” heavily against Republican political figures. A Media Trackers Florida analysis shows PolitiFact Florida targets Republicans with 11 times more “Pants on Fire” rulings than Democrats.

According to the Media Trackers analysis, PolitiFact Florida issued its derisive “Pants on Fire” ruling against 27 individuals. Of those 27 individuals, 22 are Republicans, three are Independents or individuals with no clear party affiliation, and only two are Democrats.

Even on the two occasions when PolitiFact Florida issued its “Pants on Fire” ruling against a Democrat, the Tampa Bay Times negated the impact of the rulings by issuing “Pants on Fire” rulings against the Democrats’ respective Republican opponents, as well. Most strikingly, after delivering a “Pants on Fire” ruling against Democrat congressional candidate Charlie Justice for falsely linking lobbyist Jack Abramoff to Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, PolitiFact Florida delivered a “Pants on Fire” ruling against Young for saying Obamacare represents “government takeover of our health programs.” Reasonable minds may differ on whether Obamacare represents a government takeover of healthcare, but hanging a “Pants on Fire” ruling against the assertion illustrates the ideological bias of PolitiFact Florida and its parent Tampa Bay Times.

PolitiFact’s creator and national editor, Bill Adair, is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times. Media Trackers Florida reached out to Adair for comment prior to publication, but Adair has not responded.