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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Sept. 15-Sept. 21

This week, readers sent us comments on emergency health care for undocumented immigrants, proper citations, persistent falsehoods about ACORN and Muslim holidays.

In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Emergency Health Care Parity

On reading letters to FactCheck.org, I was struck by a total lack of proposed solutions on the part of critics who (erroneously) worry that health insurance reform would include illegal aliens.

But, as FactCheck has pointed out, no one who goes to an ER can be refused treatment, by law. Therefore, legislation separate from insurance reform would need to change this, if in fact it’s the wish of Americans that injured, sick or dying illegal immigrants (and those who cannot prove they are legal) be refused entry to ERs.

If this were to occur, what then should be the response of "legal" Americans to those men, women, elderly, children and infants bleeding, crying, or near death outside the entrance to hospitals in our cities? Aside from anything else, I’d like to remind those who advocate this tough-hate stance that medical professionals are ethically BOUND to help suffering people, as well as "to do no harm," something which surely applies to letting someone bleed to death. Let’s also consider the consequences of people, legal and illegal, interacting, when they have contagious diseases.

Aside from the fact that many illegals contribute a great deal to this country, working in dangerous jobs such as fire-fighting, and can be injured at work or in car accidents caused by drunk (but legal) Americans, etc. – and aside from how many of us owe our own heritage to illegals – do we really want to so brutally treat sick and injured people? And how would one explain this Dickensian treatment of some children to one’s own children?

An economy in which there is widespread unemployment on top of already deep levels of poverty breeds intolerance, blame and cruelty; it remains to be seen if our nation will rally as a generous and compassionate one or sink further into illogic and hatred.

Nikki Longaker
Binghamton, N.Y.
Foxes and ACORNs
Tonight (Sept 21) on this Great-great-great-all-American-Panel, Sean Hannity and one of his panel members said repeatedly that ACORN was in line to get 8.5 billion dollars of stimulus money. The lone Democrat (forgot his name) protested this was not true but as usual Hannity drowned him out and used the Fox tactic of taking the sound and camera off of the Democrat so Sean and his Republican cohorts could get their viewpoint presented to the public. From what I understand the 8.5 billion figure is grossly exaggerated and has no basis in fact. Who is correct and what is the amount?

I think the things that Fox (or any network) passes on to its listeners should be subject to challenge by FactCheck when they erroneously provide false information (actually I feel most of the time they knowingly pass on information they know is false … because they know their listeners will believe it).

Thank you for the service you provide.

Charles Harvell
Woodland Park, Colo.

FactCheck.org responds: Media criticism is for the most part beyond our purview. But it’s true that $8.5 billion is a significant inflation from the $5.2 billion claim about ACORN that we addressed back in February. Even then, as we wrote, that was grant money ACORN would be eligible to compete for, along with hundreds of other groups — not money it would be guaranteed to receive by the stimulus legislation.


Unkillable E-mails

Just as an FYI, the e-mail referenced in this article ["Muslim Stamp," Sept. 14] was also circulated during the Eid season 2001. I received it at least once more; I believe it was 2005. Either way this rumor- and hate-inspired e-mail is one we can’t seem to shake. You may also want to check out any mention of the term EID being linked to how all Muslims want us to DIE. That e-mail always seems to follow the stamp one and is even worse in its attempt to smear the Muslim population.

Thanks for all your work, your website is an important resource for many people.

Kristen Werner
Ann Arbor, Mich.


Seeking Sources

Basically, you guys do a fine job of debunking statements of partisan rhetoric in a mostly nonpartisan way. But I really wish the critiques were more thorough on providing source citations rather than mere unsupported references. For example, in the "RNC’s ‘Bill of Rights’ " article, I’d like to see a source citation for the statement "…which still covers 78 percent of the Medicare population." And for the statement in the Update, we really should have a source citation for "one independent expert" – we deserve to know who that is and where and when he/she/they claimed this. It makes a difference whether a claim was made in a private conversation with the critique’s author, in a published source, what source, where, when, and so forth.

I know there must be editorial consideration re: keeping critiques succinct, especially since it is likely some paragraphs could have one or more citations per sentence. But failing to cite claims specifically can make the critique appear no more reliable or believable than the original statements. After all, it’s lack of citation that is a salient characteristic of highly-spun (might one say "highly-twisted"?) partisan rhetoric in the first place.

Please don’t get me wrong here: I think you guys do a good job of shedding light on lots of partisan rhetoric. It’s just the light would be a lot brighter using more thorough source citations within the critiques.

Thanks for your work.

Stephen Sansom
Austin, Texas

FactCheck.org responds: As always, we recommend reading the entire article, not just the Summary section. Every article lists sources at the end, and many points from the Summary are expanded upon in the body of the article. In this case, we explained in the Analysis section that our "independent expert" is Kenneth E. Thorpe, professor and chair of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and we said that we had contacted him. Also, our list of sources included a link to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s fact sheet on Medicare Advantage, which included the numbers on enrollment.


Kind Words for FactCheck

I cannot thank you enough for your outstanding service to the public interest with the information supplied on your site. I get e-mails from my friends every day that I know are wrong and falsely propagating information to people via these forwarded chain mails. People believe the content since it looks so professional and matter of fact. I then send the link from your site with your sources proving most of it bogus. I also appreciate that there have been some times I wish the facts were different but it shows that you are a truth site regardless of party or affiliation. Stay true and keep us informed with the facts.

Tony Talbert
Orlando, Fla.