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Fact Checking Satire?

Here’s a new one for me. PolitiFact Texas has done a fact check on some satire by Andy Borowitz. Quotes from Borowitz have appeared in this blog, but he normally writes satire in a humor column for the The New Yorker.

Borowitz recently posted on Facebook “Texas is now our most pro-life state, with just seven abortion clinics and a little over ninety thousand gun stores.”

So PolitiFact decided to fact check his numbers. They found that instead of seven abortion clinics, Texas actually has 22 clinics that are licensed to provide abortions (it is unclear whether all of them actually provide abortions). Ironically, those clinics are concentrated in just seven large cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, and McAllen), which does mean that only people in those seven locations have local access to legal abortions. So in a way, Borowitz’s exaggeration (perhaps accidentally) is more relevant than he expected.

As for gun shops, Texas has 10,847 licensed gun dealers, although likely only around 6,000 of them are brick-and-mortar gun stores (gun dealers also sell at gun shows and online). So Borowitz was off by an order of magnitude. I have to wonder if those gun shops are concentrated in those same seven cities.

Bottom line? Even PolitiFact admits “Remember, though, he’s a comedian.” And the New Yorker points out that the figures “aren’t factual”. Still, with almost 500 times more gun dealers than abortion providers, I’d say his satire is dead on.