Monday, November 24th, 2014

A flurry of Half Trues

We've seen an increase in Half True ratings lately.
We've seen an increase in Half True ratings lately.

What’s the surest sign that the general election campaign is underway? A flurry of Half True ratings on the Truth-O-Meter.

Our four most recent PolitiFact National ratings have been Half Trues, which we define as "the statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context." Here’s a sampling:

President Barack Obama claimed that the typical family has seen its income fall by 6 percent as a result of Republican policies from 2000 to 2008. But the White House cited median income figures from 2000 to 2010 -- which makes a big difference considering the state of the economy from 2008 to 2010. And it’s dubious to blame Republicans for all the woes, considering that Democrats controlled Congress for part of that time.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, took his own liberties with unemployment statistics, claiming that youth unemployment under Obama is double the rate for all Americans. We found that Romney cited accurate figures, which reflect gloomy job prospects for recent high school and college graduates. But that 2-to-1 ratio of youth unemployment vs. overall unemployment has held true going back to 2001. So it was the same under President George W. Bush as Obama.

We checked a Facebook post that claimed Romney’s top five donors are Wall Street firms, while Obama’s top five are technology companies and universities. First problem -- these firms didn’t donate to the campaigns; their PACs did. Second, one of the tech companies on the Obama list, DLA Piper, is actually an international law firm that’s registered as a lobbyist. It does represent some technology clients, but calling it a "legal group specializing in technology" distorts its real dealings.

Finally, back to Obama, who is marking the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden. His campaign claimed in a web ad that Romney would not have bothered hunting down the world’s most notorious terrorist. The ad showed a clip of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer quoting Romney as saying in April 2007, "It's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." But contrary to the ad’s message, that’s not all Romney said. "It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that," Romney said in the same interview. He also explained, "Global jihad … involves millions of people and is going to require a far more comprehensive strategy than a targeted approach for bin Laden or a few of his associates."