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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Nov. 1-Nov. 8

This week, readers sent us praise and comments about Obama’s India trip.

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.

Mumbai Price Tag

I have a feeling the confusion in this article may come from a difference in terms ["Trip to Mumbai," Nov. 3]. The original press article may have quoted an anonymous source in the Indian government that was taking about costs for the entire trip in Indian Rupees (INR). The current exchange rate (as worked out in a Google search) comes to about $4.5M. This seems a little easier to swallow as a daily cost to rent out an entire 5-star hotel in Mumbai.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is usually these types of stories include inflated numbers because they take into account the cost for Secret Service or other security personnel. These security personnel are on salary and will be getting paid the same amount no matter if they are in Washington, D.C., Idaho or Mumbai. They will get what is called a "per diem" for food but the basic pay rate will be the same as if they were working their normal shift at home.

Cory Boyes
Dayton, Ohio

FactCheck.org responds: The Wall Street Journal pointed out in its own debunking of this wild claim: "It says the White House had blocked off the entire Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai – it hasn’t – and that the press traveling with Mr. Obama will be staying there. We won’t." So the entire hotel was not actually taken over by the White House.

It is possible that the Press Trust of India reporter confused rupees with dollars, but the article quoted the anonymous official as saying "$200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx)" — that is, approximately 9 billion rupees — not "Rs. 200 million."

When you were debunking the $200 million per day claim, why didn’t you include Fox News “personalities,” Hannity and Beck, of spreading false information? Fox News seems to produce even more erroneous and biased “news” than all the other national networks combined. This country needs organizations like yours to hold them responsible for reporting massive untruths.

Lawrence Lewis
Ridgefield, Wash.


Give Us Some Sugar

Thanks for your website, FactCheck.org. The fact that a person or persons are willing to spend money to spin lies to the people is beyond unethical; it is criminal and hypocritical in every sense of the word. The fact that Wall Street, Big Business, Big Oil and Big Insurance are willing to spend money to hurt the people in this country shows me the character of the people who are at the heads of these businesses. The people are mere pawns in their game of chess to hurt people’s lives. It’s beyond deplorable. It’s despicable.

I hope that you will continue an ethical service by providing truth through your website. I am appreciative of the hard work that must go in to providing this information on a moral, ethical, honest and truthful basis. I can see the characters of all the persons running for various offices throughout this country. I see that cloaked racial hatred, bigotry and prejudice coming out. I would rather see the true colors of someone than to be blinded by a chameleon, who blends in until they are exposed; and then they get mad when exposed.

Again, thank you for your hard work in getting at the truth. This is what true journalism and reporting is … getting at truth and not playing favorites or sensationalizing everything for the sake of filling in news spots.

Bea Brown
Gainesville, Fla.

Please know how grateful I am to you and the staff at FactCheck.org for your good work at helping keep it truthful out there and also for the peace of mind you afford me in knowing there is a trustworthy source that I have at my fingertips to help me seek out the truth in these trying times.

A sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you at FactCheck.org.

Rick Stoehr
Tower, Minn.

I appreciate your work. Thank God you’re here, or I would be fighting people all day who only listen to the side of the story they are on and don’t even check any facts before they go tell the world the sky is falling.

I think the majority of the population are nothing more than lazy sheep, who believe everything they hear and then pass it on to the same brainwashed friends and family, without ever giving a second thought to the fact that the information is incorrect in the first place.

Gayle Kinney
Zebulon, N.C.


Also, Give Us Some Soy Sauce

I’ve noticed that Chinese buffet restaurants are popping up all over the U.S., even in very small and out of the way towns (like Harrison, Arkansas). I am wondering how these places are being funded. Could it be Chinese money from abroad? I’d be interested in what you know about this.

Harold Clinehens
Lodi, Calif.

FactCheck.org responds: Most Chinese restaurants in the U.S. are individually and family owned. (We confirmed this via a scholarly article in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, by Yinghua Liu and SooCheong Jang of Purdue University.)