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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of April 6-April 12

This week, readers sent us comments about the Guttmacher Institute, Obama’s "army" and fact-checking Democrats.

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.

Destroying Hope for Obama’s "Army"

At the end of your careful, detailed response ["Obama’s ‘Private Army,’ " April 7], you say: "Needless to say (we hope), there is absolutely no support for this chain e-mail’s speculation."

I suggest that the parenthetic "(we hope)" is not the best choice of wording. Those who prefer to speculate may relate your parenthetic "we hope" to the lethal injections mentioned in the email, rather than your hope that it is needless to say that there is no support for such speculation.

I suggest that in future it might be less open to misinterpretation if you say something like, "We hope that it is needless to say that there is absolutely no support…." or, better yet, omit the "we hope" comment entirely.

You and PolitiFact are the two sites I hit first every morning and every time I read what appears to be an outrageous claim. Thanks for your hard work.

Virginia Klipstein
Glenside, Pa.


Guttmacher’s Data

In your recent piece on “The Abortion Issue” [April 1] you worked hard to make a convincing case that the new health care bill would not change current law regarding the federal funding of abortions. I’m not sure I completely agree with your analysis but it was well done and researched. However, one glaring error did arise. You wrote: “The Guttmacher Institute is a respected, nonpartisan group that researches reproductive health.” That statement is demonstrably false as a cursory glance at their website would show. The Guttmacher Institute supports "abortion rights," making it far from a disinterested player in the debate. Just as you would expect the US Council of Catholic Bishops to take a "pro-life" view on any data or issue, the Guttmacher Institute will always take a "pro-abortion" view on any data or issue. It doesn’t mean the data is wrong but it does mean that it should be understood in the broader context of the reporting party.

Although, if by "nonpartisan" you mean un-affiliated with a political party then the statement is true, if disingenuous.

Daniel Finn
East Hampton, Conn.

FactCheck.org responds: The Guttmacher Institute isn’t affiliated with a political party, and so it is nonpartisan in the strict sense of the word. It is true that the group does work to "ensure that all women are able to exercise their reproductive rights and responsibilities," which puts them among advocates of abortion rights. However, as we have long said in our guide to sources of information, Guttmacher "provides the most highly respected statistics on the sexual health of women and men. Its figures on abortion are widely cited by the media as well as by groups on both sides of the political aisle." So far as we know, they are most accurate figures available.


Fact-checking Both Sides of the Aisle

As a Democrat, and a liberal one at that, I’m pleased to know that staff members at FactCheck are as quick to expose false claims made by my fellow Democrats ["A False Tax Attack," April 9], as you are to shed light on misleading and untrue claims made by the Republicans and others.

Kudos to all of you for keeping the public informed, for researching and rooting out deception wherever it might exist in the political arena.

Good job!

Brenda Deines
Grand Junction, Colo.


We’re Happy to Help

Thank you to everyone in the FactCheck.org organization! Your services are invaluable during voting, but I have recently been using your site to refute all the "urban myths" perpetrated via e-mails. I have a large, darling, extended family in the midwest and Colorado, and most of them are, shall we say, "conservative, religious fundamentalists." I regularly get e-mail myths about the devil in one form or another getting ready to take over. Goodness.

As David Hannum (not P. T. Barnum) said: "There’s a sucker born every minute."

Thanks again for being a beacon of truth in these increasingly complex times.

Christina Whipple
San Diego, Calif.

FactCheck.org responds: We hate to fact-check you when you’re praising us, but this is what we do. It’s true there’s no evidence Barnum uttered this famous quote, but it didn’t necessarily come from Hannum either. Barnum biographer A.H. Saxon attributes it to a con man named Joseph Bessimer.


I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your site. I am so sick and tired of all the misquotes, distortions, and outright lies that masquerade as news today. Critical thinking and rigorous examination have been replaced with entertainment and emotional content.

At the end of the day, I want to know that I have accurate and truthful information with which to base my decisions on and not just talking points that confirm my preconceived ideas or biases.

Keep up the good work.

Jerry Salyer
Jacksonville, Ill.