Winter chill? Gather around our most recent Pants on Fire claims

Steve Stahley cross-country skis on the McDaniel College golf course, Tuesday, in Westminster, Md. (AP)
Steve Stahley cross-country skis on the McDaniel College golf course, Tuesday, in Westminster, Md. (AP)

We know an arctic blast has been hitting the country from North Dakota to New Jersey, but we’ve been keeping the heat on at PunditFact. The pundits have been busy recently, and we thought their forays into Pants on Fire territory might take your mind off the weather.

No, scientists didn’t fabricate temperature data

Fox News host Dana Perino joined several of her colleagues in casting doubt on the data scientists use to track temperature changes over time. Perino’s comments came on Feb. 9, 2015, as she and her co-hosts on The Five somewhat sarcastically discussed how the fight against Islamic State or ISIS drew attention away from other issues, such as climate change.

"They're (the White House) actually kind of lucky that we don't cover climate change as much as we should," Perino said. "Because yesterday, it was reported that the temperature readings have been fabricated and it's all blowing up in their faces."

The problem with Perino’s claim was that, so far as anyone can tell, it was based on an opinion piece that over-interpreted a blog post that had been written by an independent researcher. That researcher told us he questioned changes in the temperature record at various places, but he hadn’t said those changes would alter the record globally.

Not only that, but this sort of pinpoint challenge to temperature readings has been made many times and there’s no evidence it adds up to anything. Yes, the raw data going back many decades is changed, but that’s because it was flawed in the first place due to the equipment and methods used at the time. We learned that if the raw data were taken as is, global warming trends actually would look even more extreme than scientists currently believe.

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

No, sheriffs didn’t cry for Obama to be hanged

A group of conservative sheriffs might despair over President Barack Obama’s immigration policies, but did they actually call for him to be lynched? That was the headline that ran on the Urban Intellectuals website in January, but there was no evidence to back it up.

A group of sheriffs, including members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, met with three lawmakers, Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Martha Blackburn, R-Tenn. While they focused on enforcing immigration laws inside, outside a separate group of protesters rallied in front of the White House.

One grizzled demonstrator was videotaped saying the president should be hanged. Whatever common ground might exist between the sheriffs and the protestors, it wasn’t the sheriffs who wished violence on the president.

The source of this blog post was a web article posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That article had the facts straight. The writer of the Urban Intellectuals blog post got them wrong.

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

No, immigrant children coming from Central America weren’t the source of the measles outbreak

When concern about a measles outbreak was peaking, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh put the problem at the feet of the president.

"We have a vaccination problem for one reason: Barack Hussein Obama and his open borders immigration policy, which opened the southern borders to children sick, healthy, you name it, poor, ill-educated, just tens of thousands of kids flooded the southern border all of last year," Limbaugh said.

"They were never examined before they got here," he said. "They were never examined after they got here and quarantined if they had a disease. They were just sent out across the country. Many of them had measles."

Limbaugh, it seems, was misinformed. Between the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, every unaccompanied minor who showed up at the border in 2014 was given a health examination. If they lacked proof of vaccination, they were vaccinated. If they were ill, they were isolated until they got better.

Central America is an unlikely source of measles. The vaccination rates there rival or surpass that of the United States.

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

No, Birmingham, England, isn’t totally Muslim

Fox news host Jeanine Pirro introduced Steve Emerson as founder of The Investigative Project on Terrorism for a segment about "no-go" zones for non-Muslims in Europe. Emerson said the zones exist in France and throughout the rest of Europe as "safe havens" for Muslims ruled by Sharia courts and not a country’s own laws.

"In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones," Emerson said. "There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the remark caused him to choke on his porridge.

The city of Birmingham, situated north and west of London, has more than 1 million residents. There are more whites and Christians than any other ethnicity or religion, we found.

According to a report of the 2011 UK Census by the Birmingham City Council, 46 percent of residents said they were Christian and 22 percent, or 234,111 people, identified as Muslim.

The blowback on Emerson was swift and fierce and he issued an extensive apology.

"I made an inexcusable error," Emerson said. "And I am obligated to openly acknowledge that mistake.  I wish to apologize for all residents of that great city of Birmingham."

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

No, Fox News didn’t use the wrong picture during Stuart Scott tribute

There are websites that post false news, ostensibly under the banner of satire, but more likely in the cause of drawing traffic for web advertisers. A website called NaHa Daily said Fox News paid tribute to a recently deceased African-American ESPN host and erroneously used the photo of an African-American ESPN commentator.

That did not happen.

On Sunday, Jan. 4, ESPN announced that longtime host Stuart Scott died after a long fight with cancer. Fox News covered the story appropriately. NaHa Daily posted a story with a faked image using the Fox News logo and the photo of ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.

We jumped on the hoax because we saw that some people believed it and we aimed to nip a false rumor in the bud.

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.