Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Mail call: PunditFact hears from our readers

Some of our recent feedback from readers has been chilly; some not so much.
Some of our recent feedback from readers has been chilly; some not so much.

It’s been a great first two months here at PunditFact. We’ve published more than 50 fact-checks, made more than 8,000 new friends on Facebook and are closing in on 4,000 followers on Twitter. (Consider those plugs to follow us there if you haven’t done so already.)

One of the great things has been hearing from you about some of our work. We appreciate the feedback and want you to keep it coming. Our email is feedback@punditfact.com, and we read what you have to say.

We’ll also post some of the more thoughtful pieces of mail in periodic mail-bag segments.

Like this…

Many of you wanted to talk about a recent check of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He said, "Every major city which has a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city." Our review found that 3 of the top 5 were indeed run by Democrats and 17 out of the top 20.

But Gingrich said "every," so we rated his claim Mostly False.

"Your own figures show that 17 out of 20 such cities are run by Democrats. That's 85%. To my mind, 85% accurate is Mostly True, not Mostly False," one reader wrote. "In every school I've ever attended, 85% right would earn you a B, while you gave Newt a failing grade.

"To any fair-minded person, this would seem to show bias on the part of the supposedly neutral PolitiFact organization."

"How is that ‘MOSTLY FALSE’?!" another reader wrote. "That's 85% Democrat, which is ‘MOSTLY TRUE’ no matter what he emphasized. Your true colors are showing more and more."

Another reader also weighed in saying Gingrich’s claim should be Mostly True.

"I rate your site... Mostly False."

Another reader wondered about the other end of the spectrum.

"As a corollary, which parties run the major cities with the least poverty?" they wrote.

We crunched the numbers, though we aren’t sure they are all that conclusive. Among the top 50 cities in terms of population, the five with the lowest percentage of people living in poverty are:

City

Percentage of people living in poverty

Chief executive

Political Party

Virginia Beach, Va.

8.8%

Appointed city manager

 

San Jose, Calif.

13%

Appointed city manager

 

Seattle

13.6%

Michael McGinn

Democrat

Colorado Springs, Colo.

14.4%

Steve Bach

Republican

San Francisco

15%

Edwin M. Lee

Democrat


We also heard from folks about our fact-check of conservative talk show host Bryan Fischer, who said "By the word religion in the First Amendment, the founders meant Christianity." We rated that statement Pants on Fire.

A few readers took exception with Fischer’s source for his claim, the 1833 writings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story.

"Story does not really support Fischer," one reader wrote. "In connection with the federal government, Story observed that ‘the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.’ That is, Story included non-Christians among those protected by the Constitution."

Another reader agreed.

"Fischer doesn't have any facts to support his statement. Story's commentaries were his own opinion.  While they are highly respected, they don't support his contention that the founders believed that this is a ‘Christian nation.’ "

Finally, we’ll end on a word of encouragement.

"I just wanted to thank you for your efforts at championing the truth," a reader wrote. "I am a political Independent who thinks that the present climate of misleading propaganda and defamation is the bane of our political system.

"PolitiFact and PunditFact are my go-to sources for honest journalism and factual evidence."