The Federalist and PunditFact have gone to war over a "mostly false" rating for radio host Rush Limbaugh, who said last week that the Clinton Foundation donates only 15 percent of the cash it raises to charity.

Limbaugh's source of his claim: The Federalist's Sean Davis.

Davis told the Washington Examiner's media desk that the PunditFact rating doesn't hold.

"PunditFact is funded in large part by the Ford Foundation, a significant Clinton Foundation donor and partner. I'll leave it to others to determine why they failed to disclose that fact in their article and how that financial relationship might impact their coverage of the Clinton Foundation," he told the Examiner Wednesday.

Limbaugh referenced Davis' work last week, saying in his radio program that, "Eighty-five percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary."

Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised $500 million, and only 15 percent of that "went towards programmatic grants," Davis reported.

This is the figure to which Limbaugh referred.

However, although there's a "grain of truth" to Limbaugh's claim, according to PunditFact, which is connected to the Tampa Bay Times' PolitiFact, the radio host's statement is nevertheless "mostly false."

"There's a grain of truth here — roughly 85 percent of the foundation's spending was for items other than charitable grants to other organizations, and a large chunk of this 85 percent did go to Clinton Foundation staff for travel, salaries and benefits," PunditFact's Louis Jacobson wrote Wednesday.

But there's more to the story than Limbaugh (and, by extension, the Federalist) lets on, Jacobson suggested.

"[T]he foundation says it does most of its charitable work in-house, and it's not credible to think that the foundation spent zero dollars beyond grants on any charitable work, which is what it would take for Limbaugh to be correct," he wrote.

A decidedly unimpressed Davis responded Wednesday, accusing PunditFact of "hackery" and "pathetic demagoguery."

First, he wrote, Jacobson told Davis in an email that his "demonstrably factual claim" was both "clearly accurate" and "technically true."

The Federalist and Limbaugh both "stated that over a four-year period, the Clinton Foundation spent only 15 percent of its budget on charitable grants," Davis wrote.

"Do you know what it takes for that statement to be correct? The demonstration that over that four-year period the Clinton Foundation spent only 15 percent of its budget on charitable grants," he added. "That's it. Nothing else is required. Unless, of course, your goal is to rehabilitate the Clintons rather than to broadcast actual facts."

PolitFact and PunditFact are both funded by the Ford Foundation, which also happens to be a major Clinton Foundation donor, according to Phil Kerpen, head of the conservative activist group American Commitment.

"This is not journalism. This is not fact-checking. This is pathetic demagoguery, and a remarkably unimpressive display of it at that," Davis wrote.

PunditFact editor Aaron Sharockman, for his part, took to social media after the Federalist had published Davis' none-too-pleased rebuttal to defend the "mostly false" rating.

"Part of the key here is we were not fact-checking [Sean Davis]. We were checking Rush Limbaugh," he said. "Rush can't show Clinton does use the other money for charitable beneficiaries... So that's how we get to [mostly false]."

He repeated that Limbaugh had said that only 15 percent of Clinton Foundation donations go to charitable beneficiaries, that is, charities.

"That's different than programmatic grants, which is money to say, Red Cross or other organizations on the ground," he wrote.

Later, in a message directed at Davis, Sharockman tweeted, "I think if I was 'blaming' anyone, it was Rush for taking your reporting too far."

PunditFact has not yet responded to the Examiner's request for comment.


This post has been updated with comment from Sean Davis.