Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Inside the Meter

'There's a fair chance PolitiFact spoke to other experts' -- yes, 13 others

We've gotten some criticism today about the Pants on Fire we gave to Mitt Romney for his claim that the size of the U.S. Navy and Air Force shows the United States is at risk of losing its "military superiority."

Tom Bruscino, one of the experts we consulted, wrote in a blog post that he thought it merited a Half True rather than a Pants on Fire.

Bruscino's post, which included his e-mail exchange with us, was picked up conservative bloggers who said it was evidence of liberal bias, and by POLITICO media writer Dylan Byers, who seemed to concur with Bruscino that the ruling was too harsh. "There's a fair chance that PolitiFact spoke to other experts who saw things differently, but its hard to imagine how Bruscino, with all that detailed analysis, could be relegated to a minority view."

Byers told us he read our lengthy article, but his line that "there's a fair chance that PolitiFact spoke to other experts who saw things differently" suggests he did not. The article's source list clearly shows we consulted 14 different experts. Many were quoted on the record in the story -- including Bruscino. They ranged from the senior policy analyst for national security with Taxpayers for Common Sense to a defense expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

After interviewing those 14 people and reading reports from the Naval History and Heritage Command, the Heritage Foundation, the Mitchell Institute and the Government Accountability Office, we concluded that while the numbers were largely correct, they do not back up Romney's point. We rated the claim Pants on Fire because, as one expert told us, It "doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test.’ "