politifact-photos-Gator_2

A bill to allow campus carry in Florida is winding its way through the legislature. As part of his testimony in support of the bill, Florida Students for Concealed Carry president Erek Culbreath, president made the following claim: “According to the state of Florida, you are almost twice as likely to be attacked by an alligator than by someone who happens to carry a conceal-and-carry permit.” That got the attention of PolitiFact Florida’s Amy Sherman who decided to vet the claim . . .

I think she did a pretty good job. In doing the legwork, she found that there are no good figures for the number of “attacks” by people with concealed carry permits. There is, however, plenty of data regarding alligator bites and for revocations of concealed carry permits based on misuse of firearms. The results: gator bites were more common than revocations of concealed carry permits.

As “attacks” by a concealed carry holder would likely be some subset of “misuse” it appears that she discovered that the fact was mostly true. Making the assumption that revocations are at least a reasonable proxy for “attacks, by licensed concealed carriers, she writes:

…overall, alligator bites happen more often than the revocation of gun permits for misuse of firearms.

So despite a less than apples-to-apples data comparison, good claim, right? No, Amy wasn’t willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Culbreath.

 We find the statement has an element of truth but ignores other information that would give a different impression. So we rate it Mostly False.

Factoids such as the above are used by all political groups to give flavor and context to their arguments. I would think that a website that is supposed to check facts would be concerned with, well, facts rather than determining that a fact does not agree with their overall impressions.

Maybe PolitiFact really isn’t all that interested in facts, but rather in pushing a particular political agenda. PolitiFact Florida.com is owned and operated by the Tampa Bay Times.  Three days before Amy Sherman reached for her “mostly false” opinion, the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herals. The Times’ editorial position is decidedly against the campus carry bill:

 The effort to replace the freshman beanie with a Beretta is the handiwork of the National Rifle Association, which apparently won’t be content until every Floridian is allowed to drive to the convenience store in a Toyota pickup truck fitted with a .50-caliber machine gun.

Observers might be excused for wondering if the editorial stance of the papers that pay her might influence Ms. Sherman’s evaluation of the facts.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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36 Responses to Florida ‘PolitiFact’ Slants Analysis of Gators and Guns

  1. Many of this fact check groups have been in the bag for Barry. Snopes is the worst. Just look at Snopes and Barry and Biden stuff.

    • Yeah, snopes is especially irritating because they are VERY subtle about presentation of their ‘case.’

      For example, I’ve seen them rate something as “false” just because they could not prove it was true or trace back an origin to a verifiable source. “Unverified” is not the same thing as “False.”

      And, I’ve read ones that were in the “This is just too ridiculous for us to believe, so we are going to go ahead and call it false” category.

      With that kind of crap, they have zero credibility.

      Also, they are irritating because people read their tripe and just believe it because it is on snopes.

  2. PolitiFact has been a Dem propaganda arm from the get-go. Not surprised that the Fla. iteration is the same. Must be a “franchise” rule…

  3. Sent the following e-mail to the Politifact author, Ms. Sherman. I will let you know if I get any follow-up.

    Ms. Sherman:

    I recently read your “Politifact ” analysis of the statement that attacks by gators are twice as likely as attacks by handgun permit holders. I would like to commend you on your research and your objective reporting of what discernible facts your research revealed. That reporting indicated that gator bites (which are not necessarily all gator “attacks”, as a gator could very well chase or take a snap at someone and miss or be eluded) happen more often than pistol-permit revocations (which could include more kinds of infractions than just “attacks” by permit-holders). You rightly pointed out that the comparison is at best imprecise. So basically the data you uncovered is not completely conclusive in determining the ultimate truth or falsity of the claim, but to the extent that it might be relevant, it tends more to support the claim than to refute it.

    Why then the conclusion that the statement is “mostly false”? Not “Half True”, or, more to the point, “not enough information to say”, but “mostly false”. You stated that the claim “ignored other information”, but I cannot tell from your analysis what that “other information” is and how it refutes the claim. If you are essentially going to label someone a liar, shouldn’t you do so on the basis of information that specifically refutes the claim/statement you are “checking”, and not on the fact that there really isn’t sufficient specifically-applicable information to make a conclusive determination? Especially when such information as does exist tends more to support the claim than to refute it? The questions are not necessarily rhetorical. I took the trouble to contact you and ask, I would be most interested, and frankly, most grateful, if you could take the trouble to respond. And please do not let the fact that I am asking obscure my genuine regard for your work in uncovering and reporting such relevant facts as you were able to find.

    Thank you,

    [me]

    • Lots of Kudos for her all over this space, but my first thought in reading the article was that she could not find any data on “attacks” by CC holders simply because there weren’t any! So she artificially broadened the question to revocations, which was not the same as the original statement, then claimed that the original statement was “mostly false” (after proving it was true) because of mystical “other factors”. Sorry, folks, this is an absolutely normal book of flat-out lies, attempting to prove true a position which is 100% false. And she is a sorry blankety-blank lying blankety-blank stupid blankety-blank excuse for a reporter, much closer to a paid political operative than to a reporter or an investigator either one.

      When/if you get a response, check it against that, I’ll bet they are nearly identical (not).

    • A few times a year you hear about someone walking their little dog near a pond or lake in Florida and a gator exploding out of the water and snatching their mutt.

      The gators are grateful for these snacks.

      • Well, I guess they can have my dog, but I hope their digestive processes aren’t bothered too much by the infusion of copper and lead they’ll get injected during the process.

  4. Dean-

    FYI, the Tampa Bay Times changed their name from the ‘St. Petersburg Times’ in 2011.

    And oh, yeah the St. Petersburg Times was *solid* left.

    But they are *not* 100 percent ‘in the bag’ for the Left.

    Politifact gave Obama’s ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it’ the 2013 ‘Lie of the Year award.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/dec/12/lie-year-if-you-like-your-health-care-plan-keep-it/

    They also noted Obama has a 22 percent lie record.

    • “Politifact gave Obama’s ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it’ the 2013 ‘Lie of the Year award.”
      Which might have meant something in 2012, but…

    • Osama uses a lot of articles and pronouns in his speeches (mostly, “I,” “eh,” “ah,” “me”) and that what got him the 22%. If you only count the verbs and nouns, the lie part would be closer to 90%.

  5. The effort to replace the freshman beanie with a Beretta is the handiwork of the National Rifle Association, which apparently won’t be content until every Floridian is allowed to drive to the convenience store in a Toyota pickup truck fitted with a .50-caliber machine gun.

    I have a Toyota pickup, but no .50 cal machine gun. WTF am I paying you for, NRA? Get it together!

    I wonder what would happen if someone points out her absurdity is akin to the so-cons who proclaim that the gays wont be happy until they outlaw Christianity.

    • The 50 cal machine gun part obviously has NO basis in fact and reveals her total disregard for anything but nonsense. Would anyone with an ounce of brains pay any attention to the rest of this article when she makes a ridiculous statement like that ?

      • Uhhh, guys–“she” didn’t make the Toyota comment. The editorial board of one of the Fla newspapers did. You might want to read the post a bit more carefully–and maybe read the actual PolitiFact article.

  6. On another note, gator hunting is about the funnest hunting I’ve ever done. Even wrassled one. It was on the smaller side, but still, its a rush.

    • Tell the truth, now, it also had its jaws taped closed, right? I was offered a chance to just hold a wee-bitty one, and passed. The bride took them up on it, said it was “cute”. Good grief.

  7. Politifacts became a left-wing agitprop machine, not long after Poynter sold off Congressional Quarterly, and dropped its partnership in the joint project with Tampa Bay Times, at which time the florida journalistas were free to continue unsupervised by adults, or journolistic ethics that Poynter tries to sell itself as as a paragon.

    http://humanevents.com/2012/08/30/politifact-bias-does-the-gop-tell-nine-times-more-lies-than-left-really/

    Poynter and Politifacts were being called out by credible news organizations like Forbes and WSJ even before the selloff.

    http://dev.poynter.org/news/mediawire/155796/fact-checking-operations-merely-confirm-liberal-bias-is-that-a-fact/

    Now, Politifacts is trading on the Poynter brand name and reputation, fast rotting by association,
    and the simple truth is that Politifacts is even less honest than Media Matters, which at least admits its a progressive project to bad mouth news outlets in the middle and on the right.

    In addition to spreading deliberate propaganda, there is a revenue model purpose to feed the Tampa Bay Times with clicks and ad revenue.

    Read this book to understand how it works- “Trust Me I’m Lying”. Available on kindle for $9.

    Take a bogus “event” and create spin around it, pass it off to other blogs or low level political “news” sites until it gets to national media, where it gets credibility as legitimate news.

    Its called “trading it up the chain”. Its a way to launder false facts as truth. Pure agitprop and disinformatzia, right out of soviet propaganda tactics.
    Read “Disinformatzia” for more, also available on kindle.

    Best thing you can do is dont click on Tampa Bay Times links, or Politifacts website, and just point to other articles citing the facts of the left wing bias. Independent thinkers will do their own homework and common sense rules, in the end.

    Here is an update on 2013 lies by Politifacts.
    http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/politifacts-blatantly-biased-list-lie-year-finalists

  8. Logically revocations of concealed carry permits based on misuse of firearms probably has very little to do with attacks by CCP holders IMO. Many reasons why a permit could revoked and the term “misuse of firearms” may have a very broad meaning. For example, if I took a gun into an area where they were not permitted and someone saw it, would that be a “misuse” ? If I got crazy on Independence Day and shot my pistol in the air, could that be “misuse” ? Seems to me that “misuse” and “attacks” may have very little in common. Doing studies like this to prove an point and putting sloppy statistics together based on erroneous data is ignorant and extremely unprofessional. Makes me wonder why this lady still has a job? Does she have a degree in something? Because it sure does not look like she has one in Journalism, statistics, logic or common sense. Oh wait, maybe her degree is in propaganda ?

  9. I am all for conceal carry on campus! As the father of a precious 19 year old daughter I too would like to see her have the ability to possess a means of protection in case it were needed. I also agree in trading in a beanie for a beretta…berettas are so much cooler!

    • Don’t forget that she would also need to have a concealed carry license, and that means she would need to be 21 or older. I’m afraid your 19 year-old daughter would not be affected by this proposed law until her junior or senior year.

  10. Where the rubber meets the road, what the myriad examples of writings like those above show over and over and over is simple: Bitterness much? They’re just sore losers right now, but they all have the same playbook. One, claim it’s just the NRA and a few right-wing loons, not a real grassroots movement of ordinary, run of the mill Americans. Two, skew facts to fit your narrative, or if they just don’t, then lie. Three, make asinine, bitter-sounding jokes like the Toyota/.50-cal joke from the Tampa Bay Times. And as what we might call rule 3(a), be particularly bitter about the fact that bleepin’ 2A is even in the Constitution.

  11. Honestly though I would love to have a .50 on the roof of my truck, don’t know if I could afford to shoot it but would love to have it haha.

  12. Years ago I used to jog past the gators at UF out at Lake Alice when I was in college. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush at first but they never bothered me and I didn’t bother them.

  13. “The problem with our liberal friends isn’t that they are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” – Ronald Reagan

  14. Politifact said, “The effort to replace the freshman beanie with a Beretta is the handiwork of the National Rifle Association, which apparently won’t be content until every Floridian is allowed to drive to the convenience store in a Toyota pickup truck fitted with a .50-caliber machine gun.”

    This statement is untrue in so many ways. Full of hyperbole also.

    So I say, “Name calling, slander, and hyperbole are a sure sign that the other person has lost the argument and has nothing else to say. We see this all of the time.”

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