Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

George Soros and Ebola, Lindsey Graham's 'attack,' Rio Grande crime: PolitiFact Oregon Roundup

Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on "Fox News Sunday" on Aug. 10, 2014
Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on "Fox News Sunday" on Aug. 10, 2014

These may be the dog days of summer, but that doesn’t mean things have slowed even a whit when it comes to claims by politicians and other prominent public figures.

Far from it – and today’s PolitiFact Oregon Roundup is proof.

Should college athletes be paid to play? Are George Soros and Bill Gates somehow behind the tragic and deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa? Dive in now and leave your thoughts and comments at the end.

1. Pay to play?

One interesting aspect of the debate over paying college athletes to play sports arose recently, when NCAA President Mark Emmert claimed that "more (student-athletes) graduate than the students who aren’t student-athletes."

Much debate focuses on how this data should be calculated, PunditFact’s check found. Some of it trended in Emmert’s favor, while some did not. Because the matter is inconclusive, his claim was rated Half True.

2. On Ebola – a claim that went viral

Internet bloggers – usually known as fonts of truth and wisdom – are at it again, this time claiming that billionaires George Soros and Bill and Melinda Gates funded a lab in Sierra Leone that started the deadly Ebola outbreak.

PolitiFact National’s check turned up no links between Soros and the Gates’ to a facility the bloggers strongly suggested is responsible for the outbreak. The ridiculous nature of the claim itself earned the bloggers are well earned Pants on Fire.

3. A threat, perhaps, but not necessarily an imminent one

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee, said recently that four top Obama administration officials have said "we’re about to be attacked in a serious way because (of) the threat emanating from Syria and Iraq."

The check determined that various officials have spoken of threat levels presented by Middle Eastern militants, but that their words fell well short of Grahams’ phrase that "we’re about to be attacked in a serious way." His claim was rated Half True.

4. Might be true if he adds in the cost of textbooks

In Rhode Island, a Republican running to replace Democrat U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, claimed that the cost of "college education has gone up 1,200 percent since 1978." PolitiFact Rhode Island took a look at Cormick Lynch’s assertion.

They found that the statement is accurate in the sense that college costs have increased many times faster than the cost of other things we buy. "But it fails to account for inflation – an important omission – that would put the comparison in context," the story concluded. Another case of political speech being Half True.

5. It’s true, except it’s not – let’s split the difference

A South Texas state senator, objecting to Gov. Rick Perry’s plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, pointed out recently that, "We have less crime in the (Rio Grande) Valley than we do in other major Texas cities." PolitiFact Texas put Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa’s comments to the Truth-O-Meter.

Reporting from some time periods was incomplete, according to the check, but when reported crime rates were adjusted for population differences, they mostly showed the big cities outside the valley experiencing more crime. "However," the story concluded, "some valley locales had higher rates than non-valley places in our data sifts. On balance, we rate the senator’s claim as Half True."

So, OK, there are a lot of Half Trues in today’s roundup, but as readers, you are now fully informed. So much so we’re waiting breathlessly to hear your thoughts. Leave ‘em now and let’s get the conversation started.