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Happy Birthday to Us!

By Willoughby Mariano
Published on Sunday, June 5th, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.

Break out the bubbly. Despite the best efforts of politicians, PolitiFact Georgia has made it to its first birthday.

The Truth-O-Meter had a colorful inaugural year. We covered 2010 midterm election high jinks, the struggling economy, the Georgia immigration debate and even a claim about zombies at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Political luminaries such as former Gov. Roy Barnes registered their discontent publicly.

And you were kind enough to read our work. Some more than others, according to our top five list of fact checks by Web page views:

1. The Walking Dead: In the case of a catastrophic event, the Atlanta-area offices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will self-destruct. Dec. 5, 2010

2.  NFL Players Association: A National Football League lockout would cost Atlanta $160 million in lost jobs and revenue. Nov. 22, 2010

3. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "Very, very, very few people get a pat-down" when they go through airport security, May 7, 2011

4. Herman Cain: In the U.S. Constitution, "there’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." May 21, 2011

5. Herman Cain: Said Planned Parenthood’s early objective was to "help kill black babies before they came into the world." March 15, 2011

And now, to celebrate, here’s a sampling of a few of our more memorable fact-checks. 

Want to comment on our findings? Hit the "like" button on our Facebook page to join the discussion. You can also follow us on Twitter.


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain: Said Planned Parenthood’s early objective was to "help kill black babies before they came into the world."

This presidential election season, Georgia’s homegrown prospect Cain is talking about race.
The black, conservative Republican said in recent months that the media is "scared that a real black man may run against Barack Obama," and he made the above claim about the abortion rights group Planned Parenthood on March 15.

Every academic PolitiFact Georgia consulted said that Cain’s claim is wrong. Cain also got his facts mixed up.
We found no evidence that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger advocated -- privately or publicly -- for anything even resembling the "genocide" of blacks.
Mainstream black leaders helped lead some of her birth control efforts.
Pants on Fire.

The campaigns of Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes: Vow to keep Georgia's race for governor "civil" and focused on the "positive."
Well, everybody seemed to be on the same page when it all started.
The 2010 gubernatorial race between Barnes, the former governor, and Deal, a former congressman, was to be a civil affair about real issues.
Oh, how times changed.
Some lowlights: A Barnes commercial called Deal "slipperier than a bag of snakes." A YouTube video by a Deal ally called Barnes, an attorney, an "ambulance chaser."
Barnes accused Deal of pushing for a law that helped accused rapists, an accusation we ruled Half True. Deal accused Barnes of siding with child molesters and abusers, which was Barely True.
We give both the Deal and Barnes campaigns our lowest rating: Pants On Fire.

NFL Players Association: An NFL lockout would cost Atlanta $160 million in lost jobs and revenue.
Imagine Sunday afternoons next fall without the Dirty Birds.
The organization that represents players for the Atlanta Falcons and the National Football League's 31 other teams warned it could happen next year if players and owners don't reach a labor agreement.
The financial impact: $160 million, according to a Nov. 22 letter to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Would it really be that high?
Each independent expert we contacted thought a strike would have little economic impact because they believe people will find other ways to spend their money.

We rate the NFL Players Association's claim as False.

MARTA Board Chairman Jim Durrett: According to crime statistics, "riding MARTA has been becoming more and more safe over the years."
An attack on two Delta Air Lines employees on a MARTA train revived public anxiety over safety on the transit system. Durrett made the comment on crime during an April 28 radio interview.
Overall, crime on MARTA dropped 42 percent during the past decade, according to FBI data.  
But violent crime rose 8 percent, even as ridership dipped by 6 percent, according to federal statistics. The increase in violent crime is more dramatic -- 36 percent -- over a five-year period.
Riders are much less likely to have their wallets swiped. Still, they are somewhat more likely to be violently attacked.
Durrett earns a Half True.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson: Exporters are using a federal loophole to "deceptively sell products made from cat and dog fur" to U.S. consumers.
Johnson has a reputation for making eyebrow-raising statements. Tongues started wagging again in July after Johnson fired off this head-scratcher about dog and cat fur.

Is Johnson barking up the wrong tree?

He’s not. The Humane Society recently tested 38 fur-trimmed jackets. Three had fur from domestic dogs. Some were from raccoon dogs, a canine species specific to Asia, the Humane Society official said. Those canines are often skinned alive, a Humane Society official said..

Major department stores have been busted for selling cat and dog fur. The Chinese government openly opposes the practice.

Johnson earns a True.

"The Walking Dead:" In the case of a catastrophic event, the Atlanta-area offices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will self-destruct.

When state politicians hibernated after the November elections, PolitiFact Georgia investigated something really important.
Is there a doomsday plan for Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?
"Huh?" you ask. And "Why?"
Because of AMC's hit series "The Walking Dead." Zombies take over Atlanta. In Dec. 5's season finale, survivors who take refuge at the CDC find that when its generators run out of fuel, a device more powerful than anything short of a nuclear bomb will blow it to kingdom come.
While the CDC does have safeguards in case generators fail, a sub-nuclear blast is not one of them, a spokeswoman said. Safeguards are in place for a variety of emergencies, but they don't specifically address the possibility of the end of humanity.
Pants on Fire.


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