A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Obama Criminalize Free Speech?

Q: Did President Obama secretly sign a law that makes it a crime to protest against him or ask him a question he doesn’t like?
A: No. He openly announced the signing of a bill overwhelmingly passed by Congress that slightly revises a 1971 law against trespassing into areas under Secret Service protection.

Did Obama ‘Approve’ Bridge Work for Chinese Firms?

Q: Is President Obama responsible for Chinese companies building U.S. bridges with stimulus money, as reported by ABC News?
A: No. A viral email distorts an ABC News report. California officials hired a Chinese contractor and rejected federal money to avoid federal “Buy American” laws.

Dueling Debt Deceptions

Q: How much has the federal debt gone up under Obama?
A: During his first three years in office, it rose $4.7 trillion, an increase of 45 percent. Partisan graphics circulating via email and Facebook are both incorrect.

Ron Pelosi’s Connection to Tonopah Solar Energy

Q: Did the Energy Department give a loan to an energy company connected to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law?
A: Yes. The loan was awarded to Tonopah Solar Energy for a project in Nevada. Ron Pelosi was then a board member with a subsidiary of Pacific Corporate Group, an investment partner in Tonopah’s parent company.

Change in Military Funeral Protocol?

Q: Did Obama order the military to drop the words “on behalf of the president of the United States” when presenting the flag to the next of kin at funerals?
A: A chain email that makes that claim is wrong. Spokespersons for the Defense Department and the armed forces say that no change was ordered.

Why Do They Do It?

Why do politicians persist in peddling exaggerations, twisted facts and outright falsehoods? Here's a theory from a veteran political reporter.
Jon Keller of WBZ in Boston offered up his explanation in his "Keller @ Large" commentary for Sept. 15. It was prompted by our coverage of the recent Republican presidential candidates' debate and our criticism of President Obama's jobs speech.
We were flattered by the nice mention, of course. But what really caught our attention was Keller's conclusion:

Jon Keller,

The Traveling President

Q: Is President Obama flying on Air Force One more than other presidents did? Is he being accompanied by more people on international trips?
A: Two chain e-mails suggesting that the president's travel habits are more excessive than his predecessors are off base.

Obama’s ‘Bumbles’

Q: Did Obama double the debt and commit every "bumble" he's accused of in a critical chain e-mail?
A: No. The debt hasn't doubled, and of the 24 claims only six are true. We found another seven to be partly true, and the rest to be false, misleading or exaggerated.

Premium Nonsense On Medicare

Q: Will the new health care law raise Medicare’s basic monthly premium to $247 in 2014, as a viral message claims?
A: No, Medicare officials project the basic premium will be less than half that. But the law will eventually cause 14 percent of seniors with incomes over $85,000 a year ($170,000 for couples) to pay higher “income-related” premiums, up from 5 percent currently.

Congressional Reform Act

Q: What about the "Congressional Reform Act of 2011"?
A: A viral e-mail calls for fixing some abuses and excesses that don’t exist, repeating misinformed claims that we’ve addressed before.