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Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are preparing to cast ballots in the presidential primary in January. At PolitiFact, we fact-checked the Republican candidates more than 80 times and President Joe Biden about three dozen times in 2023.
Here’s a look at some responses, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity. Readers can email us fact-check ideas and feedback at [email protected].
Biden likes to tell stories about his past that sometimes are exaggerations, wrong or misleading. In September, he said, "I taught at the University of Pennsylvania for four years." We rated that Half True.
A reader asked, "What half is true? … The facts are, he never did any classroom teaching and was only involved in panel discussions and the like for a little over two years." (Here is a guide to our ratings from True to Pants on Fire.)
Vice President Kamala Harris, meanwhile, said Biden entered office during the coronavirus pandemic, but "because of our economic policies, we now are reducing inflation." We rated that Mostly False, saying the credit goes more to the Federal Reserve, which is independent of the administration, and international factors such as a slowdown in China and dropping crude oil prices.
A reader replied: "Imagine believing that the White House has no influence on Federal Reserve policy. Imagine believing that government agencies approving oil drilling doesn't mean more supply that lowers oil prices. Oh well, I guess that both rising and reducing inflation isn't caused or influenced by the White House."
Trump said at a December Iowa rally, "Gasoline prices are now $5, $6, $7 and even $8 a gallon." We rated that Mostly False, noting that a tiny portion — a fraction of 1% — of the nation’s 150,000 gas stations were charging at least $5 at the time Trump made his remark.
Readers on Meta responded with their own fact-checks citing gasoline prices in their communities, including $2.11 per gallon at a Costco in Colorado and $2.65 per gallon at a Wawa convenience store in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"How is this not a Pants on Fire?" one reader wrote. "Right now gas is the lowest I’ve seen in years."
We road-tested Trump’s claim about driving an electric vehicle in New Hampshire. Trump told a Nov. 11 crowd in Claremont that electric vehicles "don’t go far."
A New Hampshire reader who has had an electric vehicle for more than five years replied: "It is considerably easier to get charging now than it was when I got my car. It's possible that I would have passed on the opportunity BACK THEN if I wasn't a homeowner. It cost me just over $800 to purchase and install a Tesla HPWC 240V charger in my garage." During the time the driver has had the car, the number of Tesla Supercharger stations expanded from three in the area to 11 or even more, when counting stations just across the state border.
We fact-checked a TikTok video that said the federal government and Federal Reserve were "raising inflation," something that "had nothing to do with … getting our economy back in line" but rather to fund a "war against a bunch of civilians." We rated that False.
A reader replied: "Thank you for taking this up. Over the last couple of months, news reports indicated that 40-50% of younger people source their news from Tik Tok and about 10-15% of older people do the same. Pair this with the sort of story you’ve looked at here, it makes me wonder whether Tik Tok’s People’s Republic of China ownership might have something to do with emphasizing stories that mine and highlight controversial stories that might affect people's views on the state of the U.S. economy and other matters. It’s difficult for me to explain why so many people think we are in such bad economic straits when, objectively, the economy is not nearly as bad as it’s been portrayed particularly on social media."
Then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in September that "bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies." We rated his statement Half True.
One reader replied that our rating lent undeserved partial legitimacy to McCarthy's statement that Republicans had uncovered evidence of a Biden family "culture of corruption."
"The rest of the fact check debunks the spin of McCarthy’s words," the reader wrote, adding that the money went to Biden family "associates" and Hunter Biden. "This is not proof of a culture of corruption of the Biden family, which includes the president!"
PolitiFact has found that so far none of the inquiries into the president’s son has produced clear evidence of wrongdoing by the president. (Hunter Biden has been indicted on tax and gun charges.)
During the December Republican presidential debate, Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, discussed Trump’s legal cases and contrasted approval ratings for the FBI, Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Service: "A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans think more highly of the U.S. Postal Service than they do the FBI or Justice Department."
A reader replied that in northern Nevada, "we are lucky to get our mail picked up or delivered. 2 months ago we went over 2 weeks with NO mail delivery. If we are lucky we get our mail about 8:00 - 9:00 at NIGHT ... IF... we get it at all!!!!! The Post Office sucks."
We fact-checked the debate between Gov. Gavin Newsom and Gov. Ron DeSantis on the topics of immigration, abortion, book bans and a poop map.
"What’s funny and amazes me the most about this debate is not what either did right or wrong or how much better one was than the other, it’s that Newsom actually got DeSantis to debate him, a non candidate for the Republican nomination or the presidency," a reader replied.
We brought our fact-checking skills to our MovieFact feature as we watched "Oppenheimer." We found that it hewed close to the historic record, but took a few liberties.
A Texas reader replied: "For a Hollywood movie, including your corrections, this was the movie industry @ its best. The subject material is incredibly important with an extremely high degree of accuracy especially considering this is a form of entertainment for profit, not a historical documentary. I have not stopped thinking about the information in the movie since I saw its premiere. Thank you for your evaluation."
Finally, we fact-checked a false Instagram post about the cost of a shopping trip in the movie "Home Alone." It said $19.83 of groceries in 1990 would cost $72.28 in 2023. Adjusting 8-year-old Kevin McCallister’s $1 orange juice coupon for inflation, the discount would be equal to $2.35. So, the total cost of these items would have been $56.84.
One reader took issue with one of our calculations: "I get why you’d adjust for inflation on the coupon but that feels unnecessary. Is anyone actually getting a coupon for more than a dollar off OJ today?"
In response to our TikTok, one viewer wrote: "and you know what? He should have spent more. It’s what his parents get for treating him like trash."
Happy Holidays from PolitiFact!
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