Ohio

Liberal “Fact Checker” Crushes PolitiFact Ohio’s Credibility

Media

Voter registration records and social media posts expose Tom Feran, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and PolitiFact Ohio, as a liberal Democrat. While PolitiFact Ohio presents itself as an above-the-fray judge of objective truth, Feran’s bias is hardly obscured in his work: PolitiFact Ohio editors Robert Higgs and Jane Kahoun are both registered Democrats according to Board of Elections records.

In public posts to Twitter, PolitiFact Ohio fact checker and registered Democrat Tom Feran has expressed enthusiastic support for President Obama.

Tom Feran tweet

Yes we did,” Feran tweeted on November 5, 2008. “I like the idea of Bush leaving early. It’s time to get the spectators off the field,” Feran tweeted later that month.

In work for PolitiFact Ohio, Obama voter Tom Feran has thrown cold water on criticism of Obama’s 2010 health care law both before and after the June 28 Supreme Court decision.

Feran’s personal Twitter feed, which contains several years’ worth of intermittent updates, reveals far-left reading interests:

Tom Feran tweet

What “says it all,” in Feran’s opinion? The preceding tweet links to a blog post titled, “The Cancer of Conservatism.”

The piece earning Tom Feran’s endorsement includes insights such as, “In short, the modern conservative movement’s leaders consist of those who despise working people, those who proudly defend America’s horrible racist legacy, the worst of the religious fanatics, and all those who wish to preserve America as an all-white, fundamentalist Christian patriarchy.”

Feran, who routinely writes about conservative political figures for PolitiFact Ohio, has described conservatives as “yahoos” and “wingnuts” on his personal Twitter account.

On June 1, 2010, Feran tweeted, “Isn’t auto racing on Memorial Day weekend during the Deepwater catastrophe a bit like commemorating Kristalnacht with a barbecue?”

Feran has taken to Twitter with his complaints about “income inequality” – the primary complaint of socialist movement Occupy Wall Street – time and again, even expressing support for Occupy Austin in October 2011.

Tom Feran has also used Twitter to sing the praises of notoriously toxic leftist Roger Ebert and to quote obnoxious left-wing New Yorker writer Andy Borowitz.

Feran’s liberal bias is evident in recent PolitiFact Ohio coverage of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Sherrod Brown. In the two month period from mid-June to mid-August, PolitiFact Ohio published three Feran stories slapping Mandel with “Pants on Fire” rulings, reserved for statements which are “not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.”

Sherrod Brown, already a U.S. senator when PolitiFact Ohio was founded in 2010, has been given one “Pants on Fire” ruling in two years. Harry Reid, who has been majority leader of the U.S. Senate since before the 2007 launch of PolitiFact, has been given two “Pants on Fire” rulings in five years.

On July 29, the Plain Dealer published a story by Feran titled, “Campaign attacks give Josh Mandel Pants on Fire crown.”

In the column, Feran echoed many of the points from a March PolitiFact Ohio story written by registered Democrat Henry J. Gomez. Both Gomez and Feran criticized the dishonesty of Mandel’s campaign as evidenced by how many “Pants on Fire” rulings the liberal Democrats at PolitiFact Ohio had given Mandel.

Even without considering the unavoidable human bias that goes with interpreting statements and weighing evidence, the fact that PolitiFact Ohio and the Plain Dealer print stories built on a foundation of the writers’ own selection bias suggests a severe lack of self-awareness.

Media Trackers contacted Tom Feran about his Twitter account to confirm the account was not owned by an impersonator. Although Feran did not reply, biographical info identifying Feran as a Plain Dealer columnist was scrubbed from the account in less than a week.

PolitiFact Ohio editor Robert Higgs, who follows @TomFeran on Twitter, confirmed the account belonged to Feran. “He doesn’t use his Twitter account in a professional capacity, though, and I suspect that’s why he removed The Plain Dealer references,” Higgs noted.

Tom Feran is a case study in the ridiculousness of “objective” fact checking of political statements, and his prominence at PolitiFact Ohio – combined with the prevalence of Democrat writers and editors – destroys the credibility of the whole enterprise.

Conservative news outlet Ohio Watchdog is running a series which aims to dissect the liberal bias in individual PolitiFact Ohio “fact check” stories.