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PunditFact, like PolitiFact, is a project of The Tampa Bay Times and The Poynter Institute. When pundits and other spout off, the site is there to check the accuracy of their claims.
In addition to pundits, PunditFact checks the truthfulness of claims made by columnists, bloggers, political analysts, hosts and guests of talk shows and other members of the media.
To give the site its due, we’re devoting today’s PolitiFact Oregon Roundup to five recent PunditFact checks. We found all of the pieces to be intriguing but, fittingly, that’s just our opinion.
1. Rush is right on the praise, but stumbles on the numbers
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh recently took umbrage when Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that race plays some role in the vehemence of those opposing him. Not only did Republicans go out of their way to praise Holder, Limbaugh said, but, "…not a single Republican senator opposed Eric Holder’s nomination."
PunditFact’s check turned up several notable instances of praise for Holder from prominent senators and other Republicans. However, 21 senators voted against his confirmation, giving Limbaugh a Half True for his efforts.
2. Let’s all start following Cokie Roberts on Twitter (even if we can’t)
ABC pundit Cokie Roberts, talking about violence both domestically and south of the border, recently said, "In New York, your chances of getting murdered are 1 in 25,000. In Honduras, it’s 1 in 14."
The check indicated Roberts got the statistic from an economist who, when contacted, said the figure was wrong and that he’d already posted a correction on Twitter. Roberts, who doesn’t use that social-media site, never got the word. However, the check concluded that the murder rate in Honduras is still far higher than that in the Big Apple. Her claim was rated Half True.
3. Is Fox News really banned in Canada?
A meme making its way around the Internet claims that Fox News is "banned from operating in Canada" because it violates a law the "prevents ‘news’ channels from lying to their viewers."
PunditFact found that’s not correct. "Fox was denied broadcast in 2003, but not because Canadians found it to be untruthful," the check determined. "And Fox News got its approval to broadcast via satellite in 2004 and certainly has a dish presence up north today." The meme – usually such a reliable way to get solid information – was rated Pants on Fire.
4. Lou Dobbs bobs and weaves around the truth
The crisis at the U.S.-Mexican border, where thousands of unaccompanied children currently are being held in detention centers, is undeniably real. Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs recently took issue with the claim that President Barack Obama is doing a good job handling the situation, saying the federal government "manipulated deportation data to make it appear that the Border Patrol was deporting more illegal immigrants than the Bush administration."
PunditFact found that deportations or "removals" are tracking higher than during the Bush years. Although there’s some debate over the policy that Obama is pursuing, Dobbs’ claim was rated False.
5. An executive order that really doesn’t apply
Still at the southern border, the finger-pointing has begun over who is responsible for the current flood of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum laid the blame at Obama’s feet, saying, "That’s because we have a president who said, ‘Hey. If you come, you’re going to be able to stay, because we’re not going to enforce the law,’" Santorum said.
The closest thing the check found to support Santorum’s point is an open letter by the Homeland Security secretary to Central America. The letter acknowledges a possible connection between Obama’s executive order and the influx of children from Central America. That order, however, applies only to people who have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007. It would not, in other words, apply to anyone showing up now. Santorum’s claim was rated Mostly False.
So there’s your PunditFact primer, your introduction to how political analysts, talk show hosts and others need to think twice before saying the first thing that springs to mind.
Something we missed in today’s roundup? Suggestions for our next PolitiFact Oregon fact-check (we love readers’ suggestions!)? Let us know and we’ll get right on it.