A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of June 8-June 14


This week, readers sent us comments about massages for inmates, climate change, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s position on Social Security and a continued misunderstanding about Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

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.

Support for Prison Massages

For years I have appreciated your articles and fact finding and have recommended your organization as an unbiased presenter of true information. However, your article "It’s True: Massages, Saunas for Inmates" [June 2] didn’t paint a very nice picture of the Criminon program, and I don’t understand why Scientology was pulled into this at all. Criminon has proven itself over and over again to be one of the best criminal rehabilitation programs around. A number of judges around the country have noted that the recidivism rate seen in graduates of the program is incredibly low.

I would definitely vote for anyone who pushed to get Criminon into the local prisons!

David Elrod
Portland, Ore.

Eugene Kiely wrote, "Still, the gist of the ad ­ to our surprise ­ is correct."

Mr. Kiely needs to pull out a dictionary.

There may be some facts that are true but facts alone do not the gist make.

The ad in question describes a proposal to use massage and saunas as part of a program to treat drug addicts in prisons. These therapeutic modalities have a history of centuries as treatments for many conditions in many countries around the world; they are less well known, at present, in the US but have a long history here as well (millennia, in fact, among indigenous populations). They are used in many places, in this country as well, as part of drug treatment programs.

The ad, unfortunately, presented them as components of a luxurious, pampered lifestyle. This sort of misrepresentation could be compared to complaining that someone wants to provide food to inmates in prisons and, rather than showing the rather plain and boring food, designed by nutritionists, being served in prison cafeterias, showing pictures of fat, rich people dining on caviar with gold spoons.

The facts are similar but the gist is different.

Pat Sitton
Corvallis, Ore.

 

U.S. Navy Not ‘Serious-Minded’?

"But the bigger problem with Fiorina’s belittling comment is that Boxer has plenty of serious-minded company that agrees with her."

I certainly approve of the idea of fact checking, and I certainly agree that many political ads are both false and misleading. Still, it is my opinion, after carefully reading your material, that you have a liberal bias! Sorry about that, because I knew Walter Annenberg, and I knew him to be a very fine fellow.

The quote above is taken verbatim from your criticism of "Carly’s" criticism of Boxer on climate change ["Carly’s Climate Caper," June 8]. Facts have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with "serious-minded company." Facts are facts, and opinions are entirely different. "Carly" is certainly entitled to her opinion, and if you get into the business of deciding which opinion is right and which is wrong, you will certainly lose me. "Serious-minded company" almost burned Galileo at the stake for saying that the earth revolved around the sun. Galileo’s opinion just happened to be the fact of the case, even though it was contrary to "serious-minded" folks of the time. As it happens, I am a physicist by training and I am very skeptical that there is any material anthropocentric basis for climate change. I may prove to be right, or I may prove to be wrong. But you are plainly taking sides on this issue when the facts are not ascertainable. Not fair! Not fair at all.

There are literally thousands of scientists who agree with "Carly." In the future, please stick to the "fact" checking, where you are indeed needed.

Charles D. Snelling
Fogelsville, Pa.

FactCheck.org responds: Our story on Fiorina’s ad, and the ad itself, did not deal with the issue of whether humans caused global warming. The quote our reader cites was about whether climate change was an issue of national security, not about its causes. The "serious-minded company" we cite on this issue includes the U.S. Navy. However, the majority of scientists, regardless of political affiliation, have found that global warming is at least partly caused by human activity. 

 

Absence of Evidence Not Evidence of Absence?

First, thank you for being who you are, and doing what you do. I have a comment on "Halter’s Ad: Misleading Senior Voters" [June 4]. You criticize Halter for failing to document that he fought to protect Social Security from tax cuts. It occurs to me that in his role as deputy commissioner of Social Security, he may have fought vigorously to protect Social Security from tax cuts. The fact that there is not a public record is not the same as "the fight" not happening.

Paul Frank
Bucaramanga, Colombia

 

Against the Law, But Not Against This Law

In your analysis of Arizona’s law regarding illegal immigrants, S.B. 1070 ["Arizona’s ‘Papers Please’ Law," June 3], FactCheck.org finds the claims of an Arizona state senator about violence on the border to be misleading: "The violence against ranchers that she describes is real, but it is the work of Mexican crime cartels, not illegal immigrants."

We have Mexican drug gangs legally operating within the US? I didn¹t know the State Department had a visa category for that.

Dale Russell
Scottsdale, Ariz.