Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Top 5 most popular fact-checks for April 2014

Our fact-check of a Facebook meme was one of the most popular fact-checks last month.
Our fact-check of a Facebook meme was one of the most popular fact-checks last month.

Here are PolitiFact’s top 5 most viewed fact-checks of April 2014, counting down to the most popular item.

5. A chain email claims that five nuclear-powered aircraft carriers were docked together for the first time since World War II, creating an unprecedented security vulnerability.

A chain email with a photo says this: "What’s wrong with this picture? The picture is of the five first line U.S. nuclear carriers docked together in one place. Just like Battleship Row, Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. This picture was taken February 2014 in Norfolk, Va. .  . (President Barack) Obama ordered five nuclear carriers into harbor for ‘routine’ (?) inspections. Heads of the Navy were flabbergasted by the directive but had to comply as it was a direct order from their commander-in-chief."

We found a lot wrong with this one. The rendezvous occurred in 2012, not recently; a similar grouping happened in 1997; and it was so naval personnel could be with their families at Christmas -- not for reasons that posed a security risk. We rated the email’s claims False.

4. Fact-checking attacks on Common Core school standards

Recent debate over the Common Core, school standards that are being adopted by more than 40 states, drew attention to a report from our archives that summarized some our fact-checks on the Common Core. Back in October, we rated a variety of claims; some received a failing grade. We rated the claim that teachers weren’t involved in creating the standards as False. We rated the claim that Common Core means 300 points of data being collected as Mostly False. And we rated the claim that the federal government is attempting to instill particular religious or political beliefs as Pants on Fire.

3. A chain email said Michelle Obama waved "red communist flags" on her trip to China.

A chain email had this to say about First Lady Michelle Obama: "Michelle Obama waves red communist flags on her taxpayer-funded visit to China. Anyone remember her ever waving an American flag?"

Actually, we confirmed fairly quickly that she was waving long red banners during a folk-dancing exhibition. The banners were not communist flags. We rated the claim Pants on Fire.

2. Are ads from Koch brothers-supported group accurate?

At PolitiFact, we’ve tracked ads from Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by Charles and David Koch, since the 2010 midterms. With renewed focus on the group and its financial backers, we reviewed its history on our Truth-O-Meter and looked at their ads for the 2014 elections. We found that the more recent ads painted a more complicated picture compared with the bombastic, over-the-top falsehoods of previous years.

1. A Facebook meme says President Obama's acceptance of an "Islamic order and gold medal" was "unconstitutional."

A Facebook post featured a pair of photographs of Obama, in what appears to be a Saudi palace, receiving an elaborate medal and necklace over his head. The text says, "Unconstitutional!!! Accepting an Islamic order and gold medal, 2/2011."

Experts we interviewed said that Obama’s acceptance of the medallion itself -- and its transferral to the National Archives -- was entirely constitutional, since the administration followed longstanding federal rules on gifts. Experts were more divided, however, on whether acceptance of the medallion amounts to acceptance of a foreign title. Meanwhile, the meme erred in calling it an "Islamic order." On balance, we rated the claim Mostly False.