Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Chris Christie versus the Truth-O-Meter

Gov. Chris Christie's not running for president, but let's see how he's done against the Truth-O-Meter.
Gov. Chris Christie's not running for president, but let's see how he's done against the Truth-O-Meter.

Apparently, PolitiFact New Jersey will have to keep fact-checking a governor, not a presidential candidate.

Gov. Chris Christie announced today he would not seek his party’s nomination for president, but the governor already begun receiving the type of vetting expected of any politician with such a national profile.

On talk shows and in news articles, Democrats and Republicans each have taken turns assessing his record as governor and whether his positions would satisfy conservative voters.

But what about Christie’s score card against the Truth-O-Meter?

Since PolitiFact New Jersey debuted in mid-June, we have fact-checked Christie more times than any other person or organization. So while we wait for the next round of speculation (Christie in 2016?), we thought we’d sum up how the governor has -- and has not -- gotten his facts straight.

Whether discussing education, taxes or auto insurance rates, Christie has faced the Truth-O-Meter 13 times. He hasn’t received our lowest ruling yet -- Pants on Fire -- but his claims have spun the meter in both directions.

Here’s how our rulings have broken down with some examples below:

True: 1
Mostly True: 2
Half True: 5
Mostly False: 2
False: 3

True-Mostly True

Christie received his only True ruling when he praised former Gov. Jim McGreevey for helping to lower auto insurance rates through market-based reforms. Experts agreed that those reforms played a significant role in bringing down costs.

One of the most popular Christie rulings among our readers was his Mostly True claim that only 17 tenured teachers had been dismissed for incompetence during the last 10 years. State records backed up Christie’s claim, although some experts said proving charges of inefficiency or incompetence was difficult for school districts.

Half True

Of all of Christie’s match-ups against the Truth-O-Meter, about a third of them has ended with a Half True ruling.

After the New Jersey Republican State Committee put out a radio ad in July touting Christie’s fiscal accomplishments, the governor received a Half True for claiming he doubled property tax credits and did not raise taxes for two consecutive years.

More recently, Christie earned that ruling for claiming last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that he balanced two budgets with more than $13 billion in deficits without raising taxes.

Mostly False-False

His claim about not raising taxes gave him a Half True, but Christie’s talk about the impact of Democratic tax hikes left him with a Mostly False. (The ruling actually was Barely True at the time, but has since changed.)

In a May 20 speech at Princeton University, the governor claimed that such tax hikes had led $70 billion of wealth to leave New Jersey between 2004 and 2008. Christie’s figure was accurate, but he went too far in assigning blame.

Of the governor’s three False rulings, one of the most controversial ones dealt with his claim that Newark has a 29 percent graduation rate for students entering the ninth grade. Christie’s figure ignored a whole group of students.

Those are just a few examples of how Christie has fared against the Truth-O-Meter. While the governor continues running the Garden State and becoming a household name across the country, we’re sure the meter will be very busy.

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