A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Census Nonsense

Q: Do I have to answer Census questions? Isn’t this an invasion of privacy and a violation of the Fourth Amendment?

A: A widely circulated anti-Census commentary makes several false claims. The law requires truthful answers and states that they will be kept confidential. Courts have upheld its constitutionality.

Health Care Claims, and a Party Plane?

This week, we examine health care claims from the president, a conservative group and a Republican candidate in the race for a Senate seat in Nevada. Plus, we give listeners the scoop on allegations that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hosts congressional party planes.

Obama at Columbia University

Q: Is it true that nobody remembers Obama attending Columbia University?
A: At least one of his classmates remembers him well, and the university proudly claims Obama.

Not A Fake, But A Stretch

Debunking e-mail rumors today seems to require that one be an image analysis expert. We regularly get requests to say whether pictures are real or a result of Photoshop. While some of the photos are obviously fabricated, like the one of the president and first lady in stereotypical "pimp and ho" getup, others are more subtle. For instance, we found that the picture being circulated as "Obama’s crotch salute" was a real photo, but that the circumstances were being grievously misrepresented.

No Trial for Obama

Q: Is federal judge David O. Carter starting a trial on Jan. 26 to determine whether Obama is qualified to be president?
A: No. This is yet another bogus claim circulated by persons who cling to a belief that Obama was not born in the U.S.A. The judge threw the case out of court back in October.

Mirror Image

The rumor that President Barack Obama refuses, or doesn’t know how, to say the pledge of allegiance just won’t die. Since early in his presidential candidacy, we’ve been getting e-mails with photos that purport to show Obama failing to properly salute the flag during the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem. The photos have reliably been real, but taken out of context. The most recent example, for instance, included a genuine photo of Obama standing with hands folded while everyone else saluted or put their hands over their hearts —

A ‘Trifecta’ of Nonsense

The latest anti-Obama rant to show up in e-mail inboxes accuses President Obama of an “unholy” and “anti-American” series of omissions, which it claims no other president has committed. But the fact is, Obama was just doing the same thing that Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had done in similar circumstances.
It’s a brief e-mail that first showed up in our inbox Jan. 5:
Subject: Obama Trifecta
President Obama just completed the UNHOLY and ANTI-AMERICAN TRIFECTA:
1st president in 110 years to miss the annual Army-Navy Football Game.

Retribution Fabrication

Q: Did Congress raise its own pay for 2010 while voting to deny an increase for Social Security recipients?
A: No. A chain e-mail calling for "retribution" in the fall elections makes false claims and uses fabricated figures.

Whoppers of 2009

Although 2009 was not an election year, it kept us exceptionally busy, and led to millions of visits to our site. In this year-end summary, we offer some of the worst examples of the falsehoods we encountered during the first year of the Obama administration. The list of howlers includes the false claim that the stimulus bill would dictate …

Sarah Palin’s Accomplishments

Q: Is an Alaska fisherman’s list of Sarah Palin’s accomplishments accurate?
A: There’s some truth to a number of his claims, but some are also false or misleading.