A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Mailbag: Debate FactChecking


Readers sent us letters about our coverage of the second Republican presidential debate on Sept. 16.

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.

 

Kudos and Critiques

Your fact checks on the statements made during last night’s Republican debate are valuable [“FactChecking the CNN Republican Debate,” Sept. 17]. I have forwarded them to my friends, both Republican and Democrat.

All my cohorts and I want is the truth, after which we can form our own conclusions. We appreciate the service you provide.

Griff Gregory
Phoenix, Arizona

 

Congratulations on your FactChecking of this debate. As usual, you did an excellent job of researching the facts. However, you neglected to mention one colossal misstatement made by Jeb Bush. He stated that his brother’s presidency kept America safe, overlooking the fact that the 9/11 attack, the worst attack on the U.S. mainland ever, occurred on his brother’s watch.

George Neuner
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

 

I noticed the following passage from your article fact-checking comments from the GOP debate (emphasis added):

We covered related vaccine issues in February, when Sen. Rand Paul claimed that he had heard of “many” children that developed “profound mental disorders” after receiving vaccinations. Paul, a physician by training, again erred on vaccine science during the debate. Paul, Trump and Carson said that vaccines should be spread out more or that parents should have a choice to do so, suggesting it would be safer.

Paul: So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom. I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.

Paul is right that “the science doesn’t say” this is an issue. 

I am puzzled why FactCheck first claims Rand Paul suggested spreading out vaccinations would be safer and then in the very next sentence concludes that Paul is right that the science doesn’t say this is a problem. Paul clearly did not advocate that parents spread out vaccinations. In fact, as noted in the article, he correctly stated the science does not support that.

It appears then that FactCheck assumed Paul was “suggesting [spaced out vaccinations] would be safer” based on his belief that parents “should have a choice to do so” even if that choice is contradicted by science. Arguing that parents should have the freedom to choose spaced out vaccinations is not the same as suggesting spaced out vaccinations are safer. It is entirely reasonable to support a parent’s right to make a health decision for their children even when the parent’s rationale is unsupported by the science.

Again, kudos for acknowledging Paul was correct that the science does not show any problem with bunched up vaccinations. However, for the foregoing reasons, please consider correcting your earlier comments that Paul “said that vaccines should be spread out more or … suggest[ed] it would be safer.”

Bernie King
San Diego, California

 

FactCheck Responds: There is no science to support the suggestion that spacing out the vaccines is as effective as keeping to the recommended schedule. In fact, there are studies that show delaying vaccines poses risks. That was our point.