Buchanan on Fact Checking

I have railed against fact checkers on several occasions on this page (typically during election season when most fodder for such railing presents itself) but I have never (as far as I am aware) had the displeasure of being the 'facts' behind the fact check. Former professor and oft-debater (whether he is always aware of it or not) of mine Neil Buchanan isn't so lucky. He describes his very close encounter with the alternate reality of fact checking in a recent informative and interesting piece at Dorf which can be found here.


  1. Anonymous17/6/13 07:32

    Wow, Buchanan is wrong. The reason he's wrong is that he insists nonlawyers use words as terms of art, rather than with their common, everyday meaning. He distinguishes between burdens of proof and of production, but Politico (correctly) uses "burden of proof" to cover both, because that is how nonlawyers use it. In fact, as Buchanan admits, that's how the IRS website (wirtten for taxpayers, not lawyers) uses it.

    Buchanan's point that the gov't has the burden of proof once you produce evidence misses the Convressman's point that every tax defense is an affirmative defense in that the taxpayer must produce credible evidence before the burden shifts to the government. Using layman's terms to an audience of laymen does not make a statement false. Call it the Humpty Dumpty problem: "When I use a word, it means just what I say it means."

  2. Thanks Anon.

    While I agree, I think a more interesting thread is the assumption that average Americans need to think about this in layman's terms as opposed to how it actually plays out.

    Maybe if the media viewed the world a bit more closely to how Buchanan does, average Americans could think about things more like lawyers.

    I don't know if the media (or lawyers for that matter) have an interest in a more educated populace, but, since those distinctions do matter at some level (unless you are Wesley Snipes and just ignore the fact that there are burdens at all) Buchanan is at least right (in my opinion) to point out that the fact-checker was technically wrong.

    At the very least, if the fact-checkers are going to stick with lay opinions, maybe they shouldn't use air cover from tax experts to back up thier opinions.

    Or maybe I am just in an anti-media kind of mood today - when it comes to my opinions on things, lector cavete...