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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of July 13-July 19

This week, readers sent us comments about teacher’s unions, job creation and Meg Whitman’s ads.

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.

Union: Official?

Concerning your article, July 9th, 2010, entitled "Mystery, Drama, Deception in Alabama" by Eugene Kiely, Lara Seligman and Michael Morse.

In this article, the AEA, Alabama Education Association, was referred to as the state teacher’s union. It should be noted that it is against the law in Alabama for state employees to form or belong to a union. The term "union" connotes many terms such as "contract negotiations," "strikes," "bargaining" and others that Alabama teachers are not allowed to do. The AEA does spend time and money representing teachers and trying to influence the Alabama Legislature. That is AEA’s purpose. Bradley Byrne never missed an opportunity to refer to the AEA as a union. He was either grossly misinformed for a man of his position or else he had a hidden agenda in doing so.

Now the credibility of your site is at stake. Will this information be added to the posted article or will you ignore it?

Michael Patrick
Auburn, Ala.

FactCheck.org responds: In calling AEA a union, we were following the common usage of the Alabama news organizations. In addition, we note that the AEA 2008-2009 Constitution, General Agreement and Policies says one of the group’s goals is to "represent members in their employment relations with their employers."


Bush Jobs Disputed

In your most recent Sunday Replay [July 19] you stated, “Private sector jobs climbed steadily during much of the Bush administration.” However, if memory serves, the first 3 years of George W. Bush’s presidency saw no net job growth at all. As I remember it, there was at one point the possibility that he would face reelection in 2004 with that dismal record hanging over him. Fortunately, for him, things began to turn around in early 2004. So, add those first 3 net jobless years to his last disastrous year, job wise, and the more accurate statement would have been, “Overall job creation during most of the Bush administration was sub-par”.

Walter R. Kowalczyk
Chicago, Ill.

FactCheck.org responds: Our reader is correct that employment went down in the early years of the Bush administration and was disappointing overall. It rose for five years of Bush’s eight-year tenure, and as our article noted, it "quickly plummeted" during Bush’s final year. When Bush left office the net gain in total employment was just a bit over 1 million, compared with a gain of nearly 23 million jobs in the previous eight years.


Fighting Caps Lock With Caps Lock

E.W. Eberle’s comments in the Mailbag last week [July 6-July 12] struck a nerve in me. I have relatives and friends who believe that if something is written that doesn’t support their beliefs it’s biased. I get forwarded emails every day that are so full of baloney it’s hard to imagine anyone with half a brain would believe them. I respond by sending a link to FACTCHECK and they say it’s a Democratic propaganda machine. I tell them you guys list SOURCES and if they would take a little time to check the FACTS they can get the truth but apparently "they can’t handle the truth." I’ve been a skeptic my whole life and have factchecked your articles and haven’t found any misreporting yet. Keep up the good work.

Rick Weiss
Fond du Lac, Wis.


Calling Out ‘Disgraceful’ Ads

I really appreciate the work that you are doing. The information on Meg Whitman’s distorted claims related to Jerry Brown’s record was particularly satisfying ["Jerry Brown: ‘A Legacy of Failure?’," July 1]. Whitman’s ads are disgraceful, and demonstrate a total disregard for truth and accuracy. Thank you.

Cheryl Crofts
Daly City, Calif.