A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3


During our break for the holidays, readers sent us comments about TSA screenings, the estate tax and bringing FactCheck to cable television.

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.

A Correction on TSA Military Screenings

In regards to the article ["TSA Not to Blame For This,” Dec. 15], I have to disagree with the statement that the TSA does not screen Military charter flights.

During July of 2005, I was stationed with Second Battalion, Seventh Marines en route to Fallujah, Iraq. We started out at March AFB, in southern California. Our next step was at BWI. Yes we carried weapons onboard the aircraft but they remained there when we deplaned. We had an entire wing of BWI sealed off just for us but when it came time to re-board the aircraft, you better believe the TSA was right there, having every single one of us take off our belts and combat boots to go through the metal detector. I do not recall anyone having any items taken from them and this was the only time that this had happened but, for the TSA to state that they do not inspect military flights is an utter fabrication.

Thank you for taking my account into consideration.

Michael D. Smaltz
HM1(SW/AW/FMF)
Independent Duty Corpsman
Gulfport, Miss.

FactCheck.org responds: We originally reported that the TSA doesn’t screen passengers on military charters. That is true for military charters arriving at the Indianapolis International Airport — where the incident described in a chain e-mail allegedly occurred — but it is not true for all airports. We have updated our report to reflect that, and we thank the writer for bringing this mistake to our attention.


Distorting a Distortion?

Upon reading your article ["Let the Distortions Begin," Dec. 23], I noticed that you claim Ron Paul stated "that the burden of the estate tax falls primarily on small and family-owned businesses." In fact he said, "The estate tax especially harms small and family-owned businesses, which often must be sold to pay the tax bill." As I’m sure you can see, there is no implication on Ron Paul’s part as to the percent of small and family-owned business estate tax victims, only saying that when it does happen to a business of this type the affect is "especially harmful."

Thanks very much for your attention, I hate to see a distortion in an article about distortions.

Daniel Kellogg
Laurel, Md.

FactCheck.org responds: Contrary to what this writer says, we did not quote Rep. Paul as saying the burden of the estate tax falls "primarily" on small and family-owned businesses. Paul said it falls "especially" on those businesses — and we quoted him accurately. In our view, many if not most readers would take "especially" to mean "primarily," and that’s why we phrased our rebuttal the way we did. The fact remains that small businesses account for relatively little of the total estate tax burden, and they aren’t often sold to pay the estate tax. Those are common myths that Paul attempted to perpetuate.


FactCheck TV

After reading the selective transcript of ["Cash Attack 2010: Political Advertising in a Post-Citizens United World," Dec. 13] and of course following FactCheck and PolitiFact throughout the year for several years, I have come to believe that your next good move would be to consider producing a regular show on cable TV.

Some reasonable low-key people sitting around, discussing highlights of research on false stories, flashing the documentation on the screen (in a low-tech way), describing a little of the hard work it takes to track down lies and half-truths–these things would be interesting.

I think you would reach a much larger audience, including casual surfers who might pause and watch for a while. You would certainly raise the hackles of the lie merchants so there’s some free advertising.

I hope you all think about it. An awful lot of folks, as you know, get their misinformation from glitzy TV ideology shows.

Jack Hettinger
Crescent Springs, Ky.