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PolitiFact Failed to Disclose Possible Conflicts of Interest in Israel Election 'Fact Check'


TEL AVIV – PolitiFact, which is part of a new group that will help Facebook flag "disputed" stories, last year rated as "Mostly False" a claim that the U.S. funded an election effort in Israel via the nonprofit One Voice aimed at defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

PolitiFact left out of its declaration on One Voice that Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist who lists himself as an adviser and donor to PolitiFact, documents on his personal website that he has been "helping out" One Voice, where he writes he also serves as an adviser.

Also missing from PolitiFact's rating about the One Voice claim is that One Voice is partnered with Google, which also happens to be a donor to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies,  which owns the Tampa Bay Times. PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times.

A senate investigation in July concluded that the State Department did not do anything illegal in funding One Voice to the tune of nearly $350,000 in 2013, but that the infrastructure created by One Voice at the time of the State Department financing could have been used last year in the anti-Netanyahu campaign.

While PolitiFact noted that its March 25, 2015 "Mostly False" designation "may change as more evidence comes to light," it did rely largely on One Voice's word on the matter while failing to note the ties between PolitiFact and the partners of One Voice.

Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact's executive director, responded to a Breitbart News request about why the relationships with Newmark were not mentioned in the article about One Voice.

"Craig Newmark is one of many people who have supported PolitiFact's independent journalism over the past nine years," Sharockman wrote in an email statement. "Contributors donate to PolitiFact knowing they have no say over what we fact-check, or how we rate a claim. The first time contributors see a fact-check is when it's published."

Sharockman did not respond as of this publication to a follow up email request for comment about why PolitiFact left out the ties between Google, PolitiFact and One Voice.

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