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PolitiFact jumps the shark, fact-checks a claim from, um, television show ‘Glee’

By on February 14, 2012

It’s official, PolitiFact, the fact-checking shop of the Tampa Bay Times, has jumped the shark.

What else to say when the Pulitzer Prize-winning operation begins verifying claims made from a television show?

At least PolitiFact reporter Aaron Sharockman is taking in stride my criticism of the decision of check out ‘Glee.’

Sharockman tweeted at me:

@asharock: Can’t talk. Writing up my fact-check on The Firm. Is it bad? True! MT @saintpetersblog: @asharock at least u take criticism in stride.

and

@asharock: According to @SaintPetersblog , it took 5 seasons (years) for PolitiFact to jump the shark. Huzzah! That’s better than Grey’s Anatomy!!!

Anyway, here’s the lead-in to their latest fact-check.

We’re gonna make this fact-check sing.

Or — since this fact-check was inspired by a Spanish teacher played by singer Ricky Martin on the TV show Glee – we will make it cantar.

Our fact-check is about how many people will be speaking Spanish as their first language in the year 2030. But before we hit play on our claim, we will catch you up with the show that follows a fictional Glee Club, named the New Directions, at a high school in Ohio.

The show is about a group of musically talented misfits who belt out songs in between typical teenage plot twists about dating, spats with their parents, applying to college and the ever-present quest for popularity. The worst is getting “slushied,” which means having slushy drinks tossed in their faces by cool football players.

The cast of characters includes Artie, the bespectacled skinny guy in a wheelchair; Santana, the bad-ass Latina lesbian from the wrong side of town; Quinn, the blonde cheerleader/chastity club leader who gets pregnant; and many more. They are led by the Glee Club director/Spanish teacher William Schuester, who is on an annual quest to lead his club to victory at nationals.

The plot of the Feb. 7, 2012, episode: Schuester enrolls in a night Spanish class taught by Ricky Martin’s character, David Martinez. (Yep, Mr. Schuester is a Spanish teacher whose Spanish es muy muy malo.)

Martin tells his students that they need to learn Spanish to function in the U.S. in the future: “Do you know that the U.S. Census believes that by 2030 the majority of Americans will use Spanish as their first language?” (Here’s a clip of Martin singing “Sexy and I know It” and “La Isla Bonita” on the episode.)  Schuester uses Spanish as the inspiration for his weekly assignment for the Glee Club: sing a song by a Spanish artist or that includes Spanish.

We decided to take a short intermission from politics to test Glee’s claim about whether the Census Bureau believes the majority of Americans will speak Spanish as their first language by 2030.

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