Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Mailbag, Facebook edition: 'Stick to the definition of investigation'

You can discuss our ratings with other readers on Facebook.
You can discuss our ratings with other readers on Facebook.

We receive lots of lively feedback from readers on Facebook, where we post all of our fact-checks. Here are Facebook comments on some our most popular recent items. Comments are edited for style and length. You can view our Facebook page aT http://www.facebook.com/politifact.

Martina Navratilova on discrimination protection for gay people

We can take it to the bank that any time a cable news pundit takes issue with one of our fact-checks, we’ll hear about it. When tennis great Martina Navratilova said that people could be fired for being gay or even suspected of being gay in 29 states, we rated it Half True. Twenty-nine states lack laws specifically banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, but we found other examples of protections for gays and lesbians, either because they work for the government, because they live in a city that bars such discrimination, or because they work for a company that has pledged not to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow objected to our reasoning, and many readers sided with her.

• "Half True? HALF TRUE? Come on, PolitiFact. Did you expect Navratilova to include all those caveats in her statement? Caveats or no, the fact remains that 29 states don't have protections for employment for GLBT citizens. That's an indisputable fact, not Half True.’"

• "PolitiFalse, you deserve the Rachel slap you just got!!!!!!"

• "PolitiFact is correct in terms of nuance, but its rating of Half True is incorrect when framed in terms of state laws."

A few came to our defense:

• "PolitiFact is a public service. Rachel Maddow's criticism of PolitiFact on this particular analysis must always be remembered as entertainment first and foremost, masquerading as public service. Keep up the good work."

• "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the PolitiFact ruling. Protection of sexual orientation in localities is still protection within the state, even if it is not in state law."

The Pentagon and court-martialing Christian soldiers

Recent headlines offered versions of the claim that the "Pentagon confirms they may court-martial soldiers who hold (the) Christian faith." Actually, the Defense Department prohibits unwanted proselytizing but affirms the right of military members to practice their religion, as long as it’s in a way that respects others’ beliefs. But if you believe your Christian faith compels you to convert others in a way people find harassing, it’s possible you could face court-martial. Such a thing has yet to happen.  We rated the claim Mostly False.

Facebook readers weighed in with varying viewpoints:

• "Not being allowed to force your religion on others is not the same thing as being persecuted. How does this fear-mongering that the U.S. military is going to persecute Christians not rate a Pants On Fire ruling?! There is not one iota of truth to it. This is a deliberate lie told with malice."

• "People will believe ANYTHING. They also LOVE PolitiFact when their findings support their agenda, but when they don't they are accused of being partisan and should never be believed."

• "I am a Christian and I did read an article and I was •HOPING• that it was just bad journalism. I really appreciated this article to help set the record straight."

Ted Poe on Medicare "turkeys"

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said new Medicare rules will force a regulatory burden on doctors that includes nine separate billing codes for injuries by turkeys. He's right — new, more specific diagnosis codes are coming in 2014. Our ruling: True.

Readers had some fun with this one:

• "Yes, because that's the way to make things affordable."

• "Off the top of my head, I can only think of seven ways to get injured by a turkey. Are they counting ‘biting own tongue while eating turkey?’"

Others were more serious:

• "What he doesn't realize is that with standardization comes savings. Having a standard set of codes and entries makes automation that much easier."

Barack Obama on the Benghazi scandal

We checked several statements about the attack last fall on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, including Obama’s claim that review boards have "investigated every element of" the incident. The report did look at security concerns before and during the attack. But "the incident" has come to include the administration’s public communications afterward. The co-chair of the review board contradicted Obama, saying the panel did not look at the administration’s talking points. We rated the president’s statement Mostly False.

Several readers thought we were too harsh:

• "Give me a break. The Benghazi incident does not include communications that took place AFTER the incident. All you're doing by blending them is feeding the trolls."

• "It's ignorant that you make the talking points after the fact an equal or greater issue to the actual attack. PolitiFail."

• "The investigation was to prevent this from happening, again. Who cares if the talking points afterward were the president saying that it was an act of terrorism the morning after, but the CIA directed someone else on the weekend to say something differently? PolitiFact needs to stick to the definition of investigation."

Yet, as always, opinions differ:

• "I think PolitiFact does a fair assessment here. The real question for Americans is, should we be spending significant time and money on this issue? Someone should simply address lessons learned, what needs to be done, appropriate the money for security, then make sure it gets done. That is all!"