Happy birthday! Happy birthday!

Happy birthday!

By James B. Nelson September 4, 2015

If you roll back the clock five years, to when PolitiFact Wisconsin made its debut in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, politics in Wisconsin was focused on a couple of hot races:

Scott Walker was seeking a new job, aiming to move from one chief executive post to a higher one. And Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold were locked in a battle for a key U.S. Senate seat.

So, yeah, kind of like today.

Although back on Sept. 5, 2010, when we published our first Truth-O-Meter items, Walker was running for governor, not president. And Feingold, not Johnson, was the embattled incumbent.

In the five years since then, we have completed some 963 Truth-O-Meter items, plus numerous other stories and checks on campaign promises. What have been our greatest hits?

In honor of our fifth birthday, here is a look at our five most-clicked items (in reverse order):

5. A statement by film director Michael Moore in March 2011 that "just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined."

Moore made the claim in Madison during the massive protests over Walker’s law that sharply curtailing collective bargaining. We rated the claim True.

Moore correctly quoted Forbes, which said in a September 2009 article that the net worth of the nation’s 400 wealthiest Americans was $1.27 trillion, and accurately compared that number to the rest of the population. An expert noted that the claim was based on the most recent data and there was no indication Moore had "cherry-picked" the figures for the desired result.

It’s worth this reminder, however: Calculating wealth involves looking at assets (savings and stocks, for instance) vs. money owed (such as on a house, car or student loans). So, it’s quite possible to have a good income and own a nice home, yet still have a negative net worth.

4. Our item tracking Walker’s 2010 campaign promise to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs by the end of his first term.

That promise was followed closely by readers and politicos, so we created a running tally to monitor progress. In the end, Walker’s pledge rated a Promise Broken. The final tally showed that state employers created a little more than half of the jobs Walker promised in the four-year period.

3. Our 2013 article exploring the "mystery" of  Walker's college years has become the definitive account of Walker’s departure from Marquette University without a degree.

Democrats claimed Walker was "kicked out" of student elections at Marquette and maybe kicked out of school altogether. But university officials said Walker was in good standing when left as a senior for a job with the American Red Cross. The article also explored inconsistencies on the part of Walker’s statements on when and why he left.

If anything, the article has become more popular since its December 2013 debut. It’s currently our most-clicked item for 2015.

2.  A claim from 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that President Barack Obama had pension investments that include Chinese firms, and "investments through a Caymans trust."

Obama had criticized Romney for his personal investments and in the Oct. 16, 2012 presidential debate Romney sought to turn the tables. We rated the claim Mostly True.

It was accurate based on investments made by managers of the Illinois pension fund in which Obama -- a former state senator -- had an account.  But the investments involved were indirect and made without the knowledge of the account holder.

What’s Romney doing on our list? That night we assisted PolitiFact National in factchecking the debate.

1. An "In Context" item from May 18, 2013 describing an exchange between Johnson and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a Senate committee hearing regarding how the administration handled the Sept. 11, 2012 bombing at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Clinton’s famous line from the exchange: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans. What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"

Will Clinton be able to top herself?

Stay tuned. Like Johnson, Feingold and Walker, Clinton is still very much on the political scene.

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