Newt Gingrich and the Truth-O-Meter
By Louis Jacobson
Published on Thursday, December 29th, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.
By PolitiFact standards, it hasn’t been a good month for Newt Gingrich. As the former House speaker moved from also-ran to frontrunner in the Republican presidential race, his record for accuracy plummeted.
In December, Gingrich earned no True or Mostly True ratings. His best ratings were two Half Trues. He earned three Mostly Falses, four Falses and Four Pants on Fires.
Since we began rating him, he’s earned three Trues, three Mostly Trues, nine Half Trues, seven Mostly Falses, nine Falses and eight Pants on Fires.
Gingrich has a reputation as a leader who pushes big ideas -- but also shoots from the hip.
He said that "no federal official at any level is currently allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas.’" He appears to have been wildly extrapolating from a rule about whether congressional greeting cards can be mailed at taxpayer expense. We ruled that Pants on Fire.
He said that in New York City, "an entry level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry level teacher." Turns out that he was referring to a much more highly trained "custodial engineer" -- and even they don’t get paid twice what starting teachers do. We ruled that False.
He said that the congressional ethics investigation against him was conducted by "a very partisan political committee" in a way that "related more to the politics of the Democratic Party than to ethics." Actually, the process was rigorously bipartisan and was ratified by a lopsided vote in the House. We rated it Pants on Fire.
He also said that people can use food stamps "for anything," including "to go to Hawaii," and that even millionaires can qualify. We found that the food stamp program has strict rules about what the funds can be used for. We rated this Pants on Fire.
Meanwhile, on a more offbeat topic, we rated a claim by New York Times columnist David Brooks that Gingrich "has suggested" that building "a mirror system in space" could improve the Earth’s habitability. We looked in a book Gingrich co-wrote a quarter-century ago and found that he did cite the idea approvingly. We rated this claim True.
See original Truth-O-Meter items.
Researchers: Louis Jacobson
Names in this article: Newt Gingrich
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag