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PolitiFact turns 3 years old this week!
It feels like eons ago that we were writing about Tom Tancredo and Dennis Kucinich, and our all-time favorite character to check, Spike the Romney Attack Dog. (Memo to 2012 candidates: dogs make great surrogates!)
So much has changed since we launched on Aug. 22, 2007. Back then, we were focused on claims about the cost of illegal immigrants and false rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim. And now, we're focused on . . . okay, maybe things haven't changed.
Since we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, we have announced our first Lie of the Year, checked dozens of claims on health care, completed the most comprehensive report card on President Barack Obama's campaign promises, and launched five new state PolitiFact sites.
Some highs (and lows):
Most popular Truth-O-Meter items of the past year
1. Bloggers claim photo shows millions at "tea party" protest
2. Glenn Beck says less than 10 percent of Obama Cabinet has worked in private sector
3. Joe Wilson of South Carolina said Obama lied, but he didn't
4. Glenn Beck and others repeat claim that White House political director Patrick Gaspard was once the political director for Bertha Lewis, chief organizer of ACORN
5. 2011 W-2 tax forms and HR 3590: No, you won't have to pay taxes for health insurance
Total items 1,564
Mostly True 17
Half True 20
Barely True 13
Pants on Fire 8
Most popular PolitiFact files for the past year
1. Barack Obama
2. Glenn Beck
3. Sarah Palin
4. Rush Limbaugh
5. Michele Bachmann
Most popular issue page on PolitiFact in the past year:
Around the horn
Regular readers know that we have a certain fascination with baseball. Yes, most of the PolitiFact National staff follows baseball and we've been known to schedule meetings around Tampa Bay Rays' homestands. We've also managed to squeeze in a few baseball fact-checks:
* We checked George Will's claim that the final pitch of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series was "a foot and a half probably high and outside.” Will earned a Half True.
* PolitiFact Rhode Island checked Lincoln Chafee's claim about the bloody sock.
What"s the frequency, Kenneth?
We've published plenty of odd ones in the past year. We checked a claim from a chain e-mail that a data-storing microchip "would be implanted in the majority of people who opt to become covered by the public health care option."
‘Snooki, u r right"
We checked a claim from Snooki, a character on MTV"s Jersey Shore, that Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning. Some readers thought we were straying from our serious focus, but we felt Snooki had made a valid statement about public policy that deserved to be checked.
We hadn"t checked a heckler before (unless you count our examination of Obama's conversation with Joe the Plumber), but we swung into action when the president was heckled by Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who shouted "You lie!” in September 2009 when Obama said in a congressional address that his health plan would not cover illegal immigrants.
Praise from readers
We get some very thoughtful comments from our readers. Much of it is critical of our work, but this being an anniversary, we'll focus on a couple of compliments.
"Whoever came up with the idea for PolitiFact needs a raise. It is probably the single most useful tool that I've found to sort the truth from fiction in the political arena. Keep up the great work!"
"You are doing the job that the founders of our country had in mind when protecting the Fourth Estate with the First Amendment, and I consider you among our best modern patriots."
A bunch of Omniture reports, reader e-mail and our encyclopedic memory.