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PolitiFact: Bill Kristol Lies. Fabrics And Flowers Are Really Colors

This is hilarious on multiple levels. Politifact’s PunditFact thinks it’s caught Bill Kristol in a huge, huge lie.


Well this is hilarious on multiple levels. PunditFact, which brings all of PolitiFact’s partisanship and intellectual rigor to the pundit class, thinks it’s caught Bill Kristol in a huge, huge lie.

They’re more or less wrong, which isn’t unusual, but this one’s notable in part for both the pettiness and the wrongness.

Here’s the major issue on which they think The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol will be humbled:

Bill Kristol says Ukraine’s 2004 revolution was the first ‘color revolution’

You remember the Orange Revolution, named after the color of Ukraine’s democratic party.

But PunditFact has found two earlier color revolutions, assuming that everyone in the world agrees that fabric and flowers are colors. Here’s the first:

We can trace the tradition of naming Eastern European uprisings after colors to 1989, when Czechoslovakia nonviolently overthrew its Communist government in what was known both internally and internationally as the Velvet Revolution.

Well, there you go. Some might think velvet is a type of fabric known for being smooth. But thanks to PunditFact, we know that this is a damned lie spread by Bill Kristol.

And then:

Experts generally identify three color revolutions:

  • Rose Revolution, Georgia, 2003
  • Orange Revolution, Ukraine, 2004
  • Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan, 2005

Not terribly well known, at least not relative to what happened in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution was so called — according to the article linked by PunditFact — because protesters gave roses to the soldiers. Not rose color swatches but actual flowers:

People were kissing the police and military, it was really spectacular,” said Giorgi Kandelaki, a 21-year-old student. “And the roses of course which people had with them, which Misha carried with him into the parliament hall, that was the moment when people said that it was a rose revolution.”

And for those unfamiliar with the variety of tulip colors, hop on over to Holland for a brief education.

Therefore, PunditFact explains, “Kristol was wrong when he said Ukraine’s revolution was [the first color revolution].”

I mean, it’s true that “color revolutions” is a term that’s been used to describe all sorts of revolutions, even those without actual colors. But if you accept one of the many broader definitions, then PunditFact’s claim that experts generally identify only three “color” revolutions is bizarre. I mean, depending on how broad your understanding of what a “color revolution” is, Kristol would have been off by decades or PunditFact underestimated their number by dozens. At worst, it means Kristol was mildly off by a matter of months, which really speaks to the sloppiness and pettiness of the entire PunditFact/PolitiFact operation. To call this a “false claim” is just ridiculous and tarnishes PunditFact far more than Kristol.

As soon as the piece was published, it was widely mocked. To wit:

Which is probably why PunditFact quickly rewrote the piece (while I was typing this, in fact).* Or as they put it:

Updating is one way to put it. In fact, they basically rewrote much of the second half of the “fact” “check.” So how did they change their rating about whether Bill Kristol is a lying liar who lies?

They didn’t. He’s still got this rating on their truth-o-meter:

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 7.28.42 PM

I do wonder if the epic takedowns of fact checking in The Weekly Standard (by someone I’m related to by marriage) haven’t led PolitiFact/PunditFact to react rather histrionically.

In case you’re interested, those include “Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Fact Checking’: The liberal media’s latest attempt to control the discourse,” as well as “Obama’s Palace Guard: How media fact checkers made themselves of service to the president in the welfare reform debate,” and this, this, this, this, and this.

*They rewrote it without noting they rewrote it, apart from the one “tweet” linked above. And the editor does not give much credence to tweets, he has made clear.