It appears not only is irony lost on Mitt Romney but it’s also lost on the so called “fact checkers” at PolitiFact. The organization took a look at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that someone connected to Bain Capital informed him it is unlikely Romney paid any taxes for a decade. Politifact could find no proof that someone didn’t say this to Reid nor any proof that Romney did pay taxes, but it still declared Reid’s statement a “pants on fire.”
How does PolitiFact justify labeling something as their highest level of lying without proof? They claim the burden of proof is on the politician to back up their statements. From PolitiFact:
On Aug. 6, a Reid spokesman confirmed to PolitiFact that the majority leader still maintains the information came from the anonymous Bain investor. Our Truth-O-Meter guidelines say we hold officials accountable to back up their words. By those standards, Reid has not proven his allegation.
Reid has produced no evidence to back up his claim other than attribution to a shadowy anonymous source. Romney has denied the claim, and tax experts back him up, saying that the nature of Romney’s investments in Bain make it highly unlikely he would have been able to avoid paying taxes altogether — especially for 10 years.
Reid has made an extreme claim with nothing solid to back it up. Pants on Fire!
You see what they did there? They declared Reid’s pants are on fire because he made a claim about Romney taxes but didn’t offer proof to back it up. Yet they let Romney get away with making a counter claim about his taxes even though this whole issue started because Romney refused to provide proof to back up his own statements about his taxes by releasing his returns.
I think declaring a claim the highest level of untruthiness until proven is a bizarre standard to use. But if this is the one PolitiFact is going to use, they need to apply it consistently. Romney has made multiple statements about his taxes that he refuses to back up and which he could easily prove (or disprove) by providing the returns that are solely in his possession.