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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of April 24-30

This week, readers sent us letters about the recall election for governor of Wisconsin, General Electric Co.’s taxes, and our alleged “liberal tilt.”

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.


Fact-Checking Scott Walker

I just got done going over the article on the recall election out there in Wisconsin [“The Whole Truth in Wisconsin Air Wars,” April 26].

You did a very fine job of going over [Gov. Scott] Walker’s semi-truths and assertions. Seems to me, however, that there was quite a paucity of semi-truths and assertions by Walker’s opponents. I guess Walker’s the only one filling the folks of Wisconsin with male bovine excrement, eh?

If this is the way it’s going to be, maybe the organization better change its name to “Some of the FactsCheck.org.” Very disappointed in you folks. I used to think you took the middle road and reported ALL the facts from both sides and let the chips fall where they may. No more.

Bob Christen
Norridgewock, Maine

FactCheck.org responds: We believe criticisms like this one — which we see often, from both sides — are off the mark. We apply the same standards to both sides when assessing their accuracy, and we do “let the chips fall where they may.” If readers believe we have missed some specific claim that is false or misleading — on either side — we invite them to point it out.

GE’s Tax Bill

I appreciate your diligent work on keeping politicians honest, but I must quibble about one aspect of your fact-check of Elizabeth Warren’s latest ad [“Warren: GE Pays No Taxes,” April 24].

She does not say that GE pays nothing in taxes, but that “Washington lets big corporations like GE” do it. The implication is on federal income taxes only. Therefore, it is unfair to say that she is making the argument that they pay nothing, including on the local level. I am sure GE pays some state and local taxes, and Washington (as far as I know) would have little, if any, power to change that.

I take your point on the payroll taxes, but I think one would be hard-pressed to find any employer, or employee, who has dodged those entirely (except for those living off investments). I am unprepared to challenge the question of federal taxes generally, too. However, I would urge you to make a correction with regard to the local and state tax issue.

Matt Szafranski
Springfield, Mass.

FactCheck.org responds: As we wrote, GE states that it did pay some unspecified amount in federal corporate income tax. GE also states that the New York Times was in error when it reported that GE paid “none.”

Giving Up on FactCheck

I had been an avid reader, but tired of your liberal tilt, so I gave FactCheck a rest. Well, I decided to check in and see if you could provide an interesting point of view. Unfortunately, you read even more like a liberal newspaper now! I bet you don’t even see what bothers more conservative readers about the way you cover stories. From my perspective, even when you support a conservative’s stance or statements, your tone is condescending and you are quick to belittle or minimize the position. On the other hand, when you find fault with a liberal, you are quick to defend or dismiss the error. Your organization is in a position to play an important role, but I fear you have an agenda and are merely a tool. Good luck and goodbye. I hope you find your journalistic integrity.

Jim Martin
Parkton, Md.