A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

‘Privatizing’ Social Security?

In episode 25, we debunk President Obama’s claim that leading Republicans in Congress want to privatize Social Security. Plus, we look at dueling ads from the Pennsylvania Senate race, and we tackle claims related to the controversy over the Islamic center and mosque in New York.

 
For more on the stories discussed in this episode, see:
Obama’s (Latest) Social Security Whopper  Aug. 16
Toomey’s Stimulus Charge Doesn’t Add Up  Aug. 13
DSCC Wrong on Toomey’s Wall St.

More Malarkey About Health Care

We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we turned out on the subject after the total reached 100. Some of that is understandable. The debate went on for more than …

What Happened on Flight 297?

Q: Did Muslim terrorists stage a "dry run" on AirTran flight 297?

A: The airline and an eyewitness say this e-mailed claim is "an urban legend" spread by persons who "live in a fantasy world."

Truth on the Cutting Room Floor

A widely viewed video seems to show President Obama stating that he is a Muslim. It is false, and the product of dishonest editing. Although it is titled “Obama Admits He Is A Muslim,” the president in fact has admitted no such thing. The video edits and twists his actual words, sometimes turning what were denials into …

Obama’s Reading Material

Q: Was Obama reading an anti-America book written by a Muslim?
A: No. The book, a New York Times best-seller, is about America's role in a new global era. The author, a leading journalist, is a Muslim but describes himself as "not a religious guy."

Obama: U.S. “One of the Largest Muslim Countries.” Not!

President Barack Obama claimed that the U.S. is "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world" in terms of population. That strains the facts mightily. The U.S. Muslim population probably doesn’t even rank in the top 50.
Obama’s remark came in a June 1 interview with French TV correspondent Laura Haim:

Obama: June 1: Now, the flip side is I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam.

Life Cycle of a Rumor

One thing we’ve noticed at FactCheck is that e-mail rumors tend to circulate, get debunked (ideally), go dormant for a while, and then flare up again. Think of it as a horde of zombies — they come at you, you kill them, you breathe a sigh of relief, and then there’s an extreme closeup and a finger twitches and you realize they’re not really dead. That’s what it looks like from our end.
Different stories have different life cycles —

Sliming Obama

Summary
If these two nasty e-mail messages are any indication, the 2008 presidential campaign is becoming a very dirty one.
One claims that Obama is "certainly a racist" by virtue of belonging to Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, which it says "will accept only black parishoners" and espouses a commitment to Africa. Actually, a white theology professor says he's been "welcomed enthusiastically" at the church, as have other non-blacks.
Another e-mail claims that Obama "is a Muslim,"