Huffington appeared on This Week June 6 and her comment that Halliburton “defrauded the American taxpayer of hundreds of millions of dollars” was questioned on the show by Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, who used to run Halliburton.
Huffington said on This Week that she was happy Politifact would be checking her statement.
However, the statement was later evaluated by Politifact and judged to be half-true.
Huffington protested on July 5 that the fact check of her words “was an object lesson in equivocation, and a prime exhibit of the kind of muddled thinking that dominates Washington and allows the powerful to escape accountability.”
Politifact wrote in its assessment of Huffington’s statement that more than half a billion dollars in payments “should be disallowed to KBR,” which was a Halliburton subsidiary.
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The fact check also found that “in April 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil fraud case against KBR” and that in that case, the Justice Department “alleges that internal documents showed KBR executives knew private security wasn’t allowed but charged for it anyway.”
But, Politifact wrote that Huffington’s statement that Halliburton committed fraud was in doubt because “Some of the overbilling in Iraq appears to have been done from haste or inefficiency, or even in a desire to please military officials in the field without regard for cost. Whether the waste in contracting constitutes fraud is still being examined.”
As a result, Huffington’s statement was labeled half-true.
Huffington claimed that the fact check proved her statement was correct, but then equivocated. “This is a favorite trick of those in positions of power: using ambiguity and complexity as a sort of chemical dispersant on the truth,” Huffington wrote. “Dilute it enough and it becomes unrecognizable.”
Media Bistro’s FishbowlDC reported July 6 with a response from Poltifact’s editor Bill Adair, who wrote in an e-mail to FishbowlDC that Huffington’s statement was found half true because “there wasn’t clear-cut proof it was fraud.” Adair wrote “I strongly disagree with her suggestion that PolitiFact seeks ‘the comfort of the middle ground,'” citing Politifact’s 1400 Truth-O-Meter ratings in three years.
iMediaEthics reported April 16 about This Week’s use of Politifact for fact checking. iMediaEthics also reported May 12 about Media Matters and FAIR’s disappointment with the fact checking of Sunday morning shows.