Former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson is a notorious partisan demagogue. He is also a liar.
In the last 10 years, he ranks easily among the worst of the worst.
It should come as no surprise, then, that social media erupted Thursday afternoon after PolitiFact announced it had added Grayson as a “reader advocate.”
Grayson and fellow Floridian former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican, were brought on to critique the fact-checking group's work and provide their own political insights, PolitiFact explained Thursday in a since-deleted blog post.
“David and Alan are both particularly qualified, we think, to critique the work of PolitiFact, because they’ve been subject to our fact-checks as members of Congress,” PolitiFact Executive Director Aaron Sharockman said in the original statement.
The idea was that Grayson's involvement would help bolster the organization's “trust and credibility."
The response on social media, however, was less-than-thrilled. Sharockman tried to calm critics by explaining that Grayson’s involvement was only temporary, and that the project was still in its trial period.
“We've asked Alan and David to offer their perspectives related to our fact-checks through April. It's an experiment to see how readers like it, and to see if we all can learn something from it,” he tweeted.
hi @PolitiFact. here is a video of @AlanGrayson harassing my colleague @IsaacDovere after we wrote a story about him. https://t.co/qFYAq2WlHR https://t.co/RkipNxtQgB— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 1, 2018
But the negative reactions didn’t slow. The backlash grew so fierce that it apparently prompted PolitiFact to, er, fact-check Grayson’s background.
No fewer than four hours after it had announced its collaboration with the former Florida congressman, PolitiFact released a separate statement explaining it had severed ties with him.
“We sought out a Democrat and Republican to critique our work in order to try to improve the trust and credibility in fact-checking and PolitiFact. It has become clear our choice of Alan Grayson did not meet that threshold to many,” Shockman said.
“We called Alan a short while ago and informed him that we would be canceling our agreement for him to write on PolitiFact. We remain committed to this experiment, however, and will be seeking out a Democrat to replace Alan. If you have a good suggestion, please reach out,” his statement added.
Good call, but what were they thinking in the first place?
Grayson’s easy relationship with the truth is a well-known fact in political and media circles. If PolitiFact's goal here was to build trust and credibility, they hardly could've picked a worse candidate than Grayson. Lastly, it also doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a group’s fact-checking abilities when it stumbles into a major personnel blunder that could’ve been avoided with a very simple Google search.