Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Fact-checking Doonesbury

In a Sunday strip, Doonesbury character Mark Slackmeyer muses about the nation's divergent responses to deaths by terrorism and gun violence. We check his numbers.
In a Sunday strip, Doonesbury character Mark Slackmeyer muses about the nation's divergent responses to deaths by terrorism and gun violence. We check his numbers.

We've said from the start that PolitiFact would check anyone who speaks up in American politics. We've checked Obama Girl, Spike the Romney Attack Dog and a bumper sticker on a Volkswagen. We haven't checked comic strips before, but when a reader asked us to check a claim from Sunday's Doonesbury, we were up for it.

The claim, from character Mark Slackmeyer, is that since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "270,000 Americans were killed by gunfire at home." We checked with Garry Trudeau, verified the stats, and ended up rating it Mostly True.

So let's put other comic strip characters on notice. That means you, Zippy the Pinhead, Hagar the Horrible and Rex Morgan, M.D. We're watching what you say.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story said the bumper sticker was on a Volkswagen VR6, suggesting that was a VW model. It is an engine model on the car, so the reference to the VR6 has been deleted for clarity.