A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Sadly, Mostly True

On the eve of their second presidential debate, McCain and Obama released TV ads accusing one another of untruthful attacks. Both are essentially accurate, though each tells only half the story.
McCain’s ad cites Obama spots that have falsely accused him of supporting a 50 percent cut in Social Security benefits, that twisted his words about deregulating health insurance markets and that falsely accused him of opposing stem-cell research.
Obama’s ad says McCain is resorting to "smears that have been proven false."

Big Spender?

McCain once again attacked Obama for proposing new spending, putting the figure at more than $860 billion. But at the same time, McCain himself began the debate by proposing a new spending program, to buy up troubled mortgages directly from homeowners and replace them with 30-year loans guaranteed by the government. McCain’s campaign e-mailed reporters with the following cost estimate:

McCain press release: The direct cost of this plan would be roughly $300 billion because the purchase of mortgages would relieve homeowners of “negative equity”

FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.

Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.
Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount,

More Social Security Spin

An Obama-Biden TV ad once again twists McCain’s position on Social Security.

It claims he backed a "plan to risk your Social Security in the stock market." In fact, the plan McCain endorsed in 2005 would have been voluntary, and workers could have put only one-third of their Social Security pension fund taxes into private accounts.

The new ad also asks viewers to imagine "your future retirement benefits" invested in Lehman Brothers, AIG or Merrill Lynch,

FactChecking Debate No. 1

McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

Jon Stewart: Joe Biden “Crazy Reckless?” Oops!

 Comedian Jon Stewart had a nice riff going on “The Daily Show” Wednesday night (Sept. 24) until he scolded Joe Biden as being “crazy reckless” about his gun facts. But in this case, Biden knew what he was talking about, and Stewart didn’t. (You can view Stewart's comments on the Comedy Channel website, if you don't mind watching the commercial that precedes it.)
Stewart starts off making fun of Biden’s remark about FDR “going on television,”

Obama’s Social Security Whopper

In Daytona Beach, Obama said that "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week." He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers."
That’s not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts.

McCain and the 1967 Forrestal Fire

There is a nasty claim making the rounds in virulently anti-McCain circles, accusing him of responsibility for the terrible 1967 disaster aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. That claim is bunk, and we said so in our Sept. 5 Ask FactCheck item, “Did McCain crash five planes?” Now we are saying so again – even more emphatically – based on additional research.
Among the new details: We question McCain’s widely accepted story that it was his own A-4 Skyhawk that was first hit by the errant missile that touched off the disaster.

More on Palin’s False Energy Claim

There’s more on Sarah Palin’s claim, made in her ABC News interview, that Alaska produces 20 percent of the nation’s energy supply. As we noted in our original article, official statistics from the federal government show that Alaska produces only 3.5 percent of the total energy produced in the U.S., and 2.4 percent of the energy consumed.
McCain-Palin campaign officials said she meant to say that Alaska accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s oil and gas production,

Palin’s big energy blooper

We published this article on our home page late Friday:
Energetically Wrong
September 12, 2008
Palin says Alaska supplies 20 percent of U.S. energy. Not true. Not even close.