PolitiFact published a completely inaccurate fact check on Tuesday, accusing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of making a false statement about Democrats' court-packing initiative.
But once it hit social media, observers informed the purportedly non-partisan organization that it was guilty of a "pants on fire" analysis.
What are the details?
During a news conference in front of the Supreme Court last week arguing against a Democratic bill to expand the number of justices from nine to 13, Cruz said, "You didn't see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn't see us try to pack the court."
So, PolitiFact decided to "fact check" only the first sentence of Cruz's statement with a piece that read like an op-ed — completely omitting any mention of court-packing, ignoring context, and making a patently false argument claiming the Texas Republican had lied.
The nonprofit's "short" version of their analysis reads:
• Cruz's comment ignores that Republicans gave diametrically opposite treatment to President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland and President Donald Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.
• As the party controlling the Senate, the Republicans had the right to exercise their power as they saw fit. But there was no consistency on their part when they denied Garland a hearing for nearly a year yet rushed through Barrett's nomination within weeks — other than advancing the party's goals.
PolitiFact ruled Cruz's claim as "false."
Twitter users cried foul, overwhelmingly calling out PolitiFact and accusing the outlet of exposing its pro-Democrat agenda.
"This isn't fact-checking," one person wrote. "Nothing in Cruz's statements was false, but Politifact can't help themselves. Their ratings are consistent spin for one side."
Townhall.com political editor Guy Benson replied, "That's Politifact for you. Just awful."
Curtis Houck, managing editor of Newsbusters, told PolitiFact, "We get it. You hate conservatives and will claim left-wing propaganda are facts because that's what you do."
"Another sophistical switcheroo by @politifcact," someone else tweeted. "The clear meaning of 'rigging the game' in Cruz' statement is a move akin to 'packing the court.' So @politifact ignores that, then they redefine 'rigging' as having 'no consistency', attribute inconsistency to GOP...and [voila]!"
What did Sen. Cruz say?
Sen. Cruz also weighed in, responding to the "fact check" by tweeting:
"Lying liars lie & that's what Politi'fact' does every day. To 'pack' the Supreme Court is to ADD seats for political advantage. Republicans did NOT do so when we had control-nobody even suggested it. Now, Dems have filed legislation to EXPAND SCOTUS from 9 to 13 Justices. FACT."