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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Jan. 10-16

This week, readers sent us comments about a previous letter in the FactCheck Mailbag and a comical ad from Jon Stewart’s “super PAC.”

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


FactCheck Spin?

I enjoy reading everything, including the mailbag. A recent mailbag letter was from Dan Barnes, who was unsubscribing because he felt you were spinning things in favor of the Republicans [“FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Dec. 27 – Jan. 2″].

I am reminded of a study (I wish I could recall the source) where people identified themselves as Republican, Democrat, or neutral, watched a short video and were asked to rate it for political spin. Comically, in my opinion, Republicans generally felt it had Democratic spin, Democrats felt it had Republican spin, and neutrals did not think it had spin.

I could be wrong, but I think your general tone is neutral and you do a good job of calling out areas of contention, including your own points as possible quibbles. Arthur Brisbane at the New York Times recently asked if the Times should be fact-checking. That, to me, is an absurd question; of course it should! And it should do it like FactCheck does!

Thanks for all the hard work.

Pat Corwin
Seattle, Wash.


Mitt the Ripper?’

In the “Mitt the Ripper” fact-check by Brooks Jackson [“Mitt the Ripper?” Jan. 16], the argument is made that Mitt Romney has an alibi when it comes to “serial killing” corporations because he had left Bain Capital a year or two before several other companies under its umbrella declared bankruptcy and closed down — all while profiting it.

Perhaps The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC was in error by labeling him a “serial killer” rather than a “mafia boss,” which seems to be a more accurate description (or even a candidate and a Super PAC manager that are totally “not coordinating” with each other). It seems more appropriate when one describes acquiring struggling companies with deep flaws, maximizing as much short-term profit as possible, and then leaving the company to bigger and better things while companies begin bankruptcy proceedings. If you subscribe to the notion that companies are people, then I don’t see much difference in that and a mob boss leaving a “mess” for others to deal with (offing companies) while he leaves to have dinner with his mother (Salt Lake City Olympics committee) in order to establish a personal alibi.

Of course, that doesn’t even include the companies that did enter bankruptcy while Mitt Romney was at Bain Capital. Wikipedia states that the success/failure rate for Bain was about even based on two separate sources that use different metrics. It is unclear how much profit, if any, the company, and in turn Mitt Romney, benefited from these failed companies. Regardless, those companies were still taken out back and shot once they proved no longer useful.

Perhaps next time, your fact-checking won’t take such a narrow viewpoint.

Steven Camire
Billerica, Mass.


Parsing Words?

My first introduction to your services. Thanks for staying close to the “FACTS.” You may be as good as TruthorFiction.com.

However,  you stated [Rep. Ron] Paul’s indiscretion regarding [former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick] Santorum’s participation as a lobbyist [“Mangled Facts in Manchester,” Jan. 8], was “technically incorrect.” Technically, you are correct in so stating, but practically, he participated in the lobbying process, contributed to the lobbying attempts to sway congressmen and got paid for his “consulting.” Ipso-facto, he contributed to the lobbying activities, even though he wasn’t “registered,” resulting in the same outcome.

During one short period of my career (’80s) attempting to influence Congress, our company (General Electric) had a full-time employee as a lobbyist (registered or not back then, not sure). Therefore, I could have been considered a “consultant.” I know the process and the objectives of the entire lobbying regime. If you are paid to contribute, you really are the same as a “registered” lobbyist!!

Come on, people! PLEASE tell the whole story!! PLEASE don’t mislead!! Your standards should be much higher than the average press. Hopefully, you are better than this one.

BTW, I have no preference of either Paul or Santorum, but you have my attention to carefully watch YOUR facts.

Jim Zimmerman
Gainesville, Fla.