Title text: "Ok, I lit the smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed. Let's see if it--" ::FWOOOSH:: "Politifact says: PANTS ON FIRE!"
The website PolitiFact rates political claims based on how true they are. The rulings from the Truth-O-Meter™ at PolitiFact are:
- Mostly True
- Mostly False
- Pants on Fire!
This comic presents a character calling herself "PolitiFact" -- either a woman pretending to come from PolitiFact.com or a personification of the website itself -- annoying Megan and Cueball by rating everything they say on the Truth-O-Meter. When Megan, apparently just having gotten out of bed, says she had trouble sleeping, the PolitiFact.com woman (called PolitiFact from now on) appears at an open window and observes that she is telling the truth with the rating of "Mostly True!" (So according to PolitiFact she did not sleep well most of the night, but may have slept OK for some parts of the night...)
Megan appears distressed, which is not improved when PolitiFact enters their house through the window. Megan give chase to PolitiFact, passing by Cueball, whose command to leave makes it clear that this is not the first time PolitiFact has annoyed them in this way. Megan swears that she had locked the window, which if true would mean that PolitiFact had illegally opened a locked window. PolitiFact gives that claim the rating of "False!", indicating that the window was unlocked. (Entering someone's house against their wishes is illegal nonetheless.)
After the chase, PolitiFact ends up hiding under the couple's bed; Cueball's claim that Politifact "can't stay under there forever" is promptly rated "False". Megan's remark, however, that no one likes Politifact, is rated "Mostly True!" If interpreted as claim about the person, PolitiFact acknowledges that what she does annoys people, but she keeps on doing it anyway.
If Megan is commenting on the popularity of the website, Politifact is still correct. People become very defensive when claims they make in political discussions are debunked by PolitiFact.com. There is a phenomenon where the people most influenced by an erroneous claim are the least likely to believe a fact checker. For example, The Washington Post shut down their internet rumor fact checker because, "institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it's demonstrably fake." Simply put, people like the idea of a fact checker until they disagree with it.
PolitiFact.com has been accused of being both liberally biased and conservatively biased at various times and has angered politicians on both sides of the aisle. The summary statistic "rulings" are especially troublesome; often the critics will agree that the information presented by the fact check is correct, and may agree that all relevant information has been included, but will disagree as to the importance of context omitted by the original speaker or the interpretation of ambiguous language.
The title text makes a play on PolitiFact.com's most untrue rating, "Pants on Fire!" - a reference to the childhood accusation "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
In the title text Cueball or Megan says that they have lit a smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed near PolitiFact. When it goes off it apparently manages to ignite PolitiFact's pants - thus, PolitiFact's pants are literally on fire and she yells "PANTS ON FIRE!". (Assuming character continuity, Cueball has had problems with smoke bombs before, in 486: I am Not a Ninja.)
Alternatively, Cueball or Megan just says this out loud (they could even roll a non-bomb object under the bed) and makes the loud FWOOOSH sound to represent the bomb going off. Then they would be telling an outright lie that would be rated as "Pants on Fire!". The fact that the FWOOSH is located outside of the "quotation marks" makes this seem unlikely, however, as does the fact that "PANTS ON FIRE" is yelled, rather than calmly delivered in the fashion of her other judgements.
It may be a coincidence, but PolitiFact.com was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009 for work done in their first full year of work (after it was started in August 2007), and this comic was released right after 1711: Snapchat, which hinges on the existence of little-known Pulitzer Prize categories.
- [Megan with messy morning hair is walking right and rubs her eyes.]
- Megan: I did not sleep well last night.
- [A woman with hair like Megan (but a bit longer) wearing a white hat with brim and a small card attached to the hat (like a press card) crawls up on the pane of an open window. She begins all her sentences with the word PolitiFact. When she says this it is written in the color and style of the PolitiFact.com logo with blue Politi and red Fact. Megan has just walked past the window and has turned to look at the woman. She is still holding one hand up and her hair is still messy.]
- PolitiFact: PolitiFact says mostly true!
- Megan: Oh no...
- [In a frame-less panel Cueball is walking right, while Megan, arms stretched out and hair flowing behind her, runs by him chasing PolitiFact who is running with a hand up to hold her hat in placehair also flowing behind her.]
- Cueball: Not again. Get out of here, PolitiFact!
- Megan: I swear I locked that window.
- PolitiFact: PolitiFact says: False!
- [Cueball and Megan looking downwards are standing at the foot of a well made bed with two pillows, and the bedsheets drawn tight. PolitiFact's voice emanates from a starburst at the edge of the shadow under the bed.]
- Cueball: You can't stay under there forever.
- PolitiFact (voice from under bed): PolitiFact says: False!
- Megan: Nobody likes you, Politifact.
- PolitiFact: PolitiFact says: Mostly true!
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