Rebuttal to Beale: Left-Wing Fact Checking Organization PolitiFact Said Bernie Sanders Lied

Rebuttal to Beale: Left-Wing Fact Checking Organization PolitiFact Said Bernie Sanders Lied

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This is my brief rebuttal to Linda Beale’s response to my post Tax Lies Some Left Wing Bloggers Like to Ignore.

The Charge that I”Manufactured” the Story About Bernie Sanders’ Tax Lie

Tax Blogger Linda Beale doesn’t like the fact that I pointed out that an independent fact checking organization determined that left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders misled the public about the state of ExxonMobil’s taxes.

She claims that I am merely manufacturing the story to score points against liberals:

All in all, Pappas’ chagrin at the “misleading” nature of Sanders’ talk seems manufactured. Anybody reading the speech would have been quite clear that this was a discussion of federal income taxes.

Anybody except PolitiFact, that is.

Beale is on very thin ice here. 

I didn’t independently conclude that Bernie Sanders misled the public about Exxon’s tax payments. In fact, I assumed that his figures were correct.

What I did do – nearly one year later – was report what PolitiFact – an organization owned, operated and funded by the The St. Petersburg Times, one of America’s most left-leaning newspapers – concluded about Mr. Sander’s claims.

Consequently, if Ms. Beale believes that I manufactured the charge that Bernie Sanders misstated the truth, wouldn’t she also have to believe that PolitiFact manufactured the charge? And if Ms. Beale truly believes that Mr. Sander’s accusations about Exxon are accurate, shouldn’t she immediately take the issue up with PolitiFact since it was my source?

If Ms. Beale does challenge PolitiFact’s determination that Sanders misstated the facts and the determination is retracted, I will happily publish the retraction here.

Until then, I am sticking with PolitiFact’s extant determination because I am confident that it, of all the fact-checking organizations, would not have concluded that Mr. Sander’s accusations about Exxon were false had it not done substantial research and determined them to actually be false.¹

Why Doesn’t Ms. Beale Accuse PolitiFact of Manufacturing a Story about Sanders?

Having said that, I understand completely why Ms. Beale has chosen to criticize me rather than PolitiFact.

She and other liberals often cite PolitiFact’s conclusions as proof that Republicans lie. Consequently, were they to openly criticize PolitiFact for concluding that a left-winger like Bernie Sanders had lied, they would cast doubt on those instances when PolitiFact concluded that a right-winger had lied.

Even though Ms. Beale has artfully avoiding criticizing PolitiFact it is clear that she considers that organization to be  useful only when it reveals the lies of her political opponents. When it reveals the lies of someone with whom she agrees, it’s conclusions must be dismissed and marginalized.

Thus, despite Ms. Beale’s strident rhetoric against tax lies, my original point is confirmed: She is less concerned with promoting truth in the tax debate than she is with advancing her own progressive agenda. Anyone who is opposed to that agenda is persona non grata and must be discredited.

How does she discredit them? By calling them heartless, greedy, selfish people who want to make poor people suffer.

The fact that I refuse to tolerate this”Rules for Radicals” nonsense, and that I ridicule it whenever I see it, does not make me a member of the right-wing fringe.

Finally, accusing me of manufacturing a story about a left-wing tax lie simply because I published a left-wing fact-checking organization’s conclusion to that effect is bit like boxing the ears of the postman who delivers bad news.

The Charge that I Engage in Ad Hominem Attacks

Amaxingly, Ms. Beale has the audacity to accuse me of engaging in personal insults:

[Pappas] also tends to engage in ad hominem attacks on left-wing bloggers–yours truly being a frequent honoree.

It is true that I have called Ms. Beale a true believer, hateful and a liberal. If those are ad hominem attacks, I plead guilty.

But they aren’t ad hominem attacks because they accurately describe her views:

  • Ms. Beale hates the tea partiers and has said as much on the pages of her own blog;²
  • Ms. Beale is a true believer in the cause of wealth redistribution and hyper-progressive taxation and regularly writes blog posts on the subject; and 
  • Ms. Beale is a liberal and she wears the label proudly.

Calling Ms. Beale something that she embraces does not an ad hominem attack make.

Moreover, someone who repeatedly makes the accusation that those of us who believe that taxes are too high and government too large have no other goal than to see poor people suffer, should not be scolding others for the alleged use of ad hominem attacks.

When I think of Ms. Beale (and other true-believers, both left and right) I am reminded of a poem by the great Scottish Poet, Robert Burns:

O’ what a gift the giftee gi’e us
To see ourselves as others see us


¹  There is good reason to believe that PolitiFact is biased in favor of Democratic and liberal candidates. Consequently, when it accuses a stalwart liberal like Bernie Sanders of lying it’s more credible than had The Wall Street Journal or The National Review made the accusation. I am quite certain that PolitiFact would not have done it had they not been pretty certain that Mr. Sanders fibbed.

²  Ms. Beale has accused the tea partiers of wanting to destroy the American economy so that rich folks could get more rich while poor people die by the wayside. That sounds like hatred to me. To be honest, if she truly believes that about them, she is right to hate them. But my saying that Ms. Beale hates people who want to bring about the destruction of America and it’s underclass is not an ad hominem attack, but rather, a compliment. If I believed that about the tea partiers, I would hate them, too.

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida

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