Our top 5 fact-checks for November 2014
With the gubernatorial election over after Nov. 4, PolitiFact Florida readers turned to other subjects. Here are the top 5 most-viewed fact-checks and special reports during November 2014, counting down to the most popular story.
Few were reading about the governor, but medical marijuana still proved popular. Amendment 2 was narrowly defeated, with 57.6 percent of voters approving the measure -- just shy of the 60 percent needed to change the state’s constitution. Two days after the defeat, the group behind the measure tweeted that medical marijuana won a higher percentage of the vote than the last six Florida governors. We looked up the voting record and found if you counted the last six gubernatorial elections going back to 1994, that was accurate. That wasn’t the case if you considered the last six elected governors, however, so we called the statement Mostly True.
Maybe it was because Thanksgiving was approaching, or maybe it was because people don’t like to see 90-year-old Samaritans arrested, but the saga of a do-gooder gone bad in Fort Lauderdale attracted a lot of attention. Abbott, who ran a nonprofit to feed the city’s homeless in public, was arrested at least three times. Mayor Seiler insisted no one was taken into custody for breaking city law in Abbott’s case, but we found he was given notices to appear in court three times in October and November. That’s a form of arrest, experts said, but Abbott wasn’t hauled off to jail, so we rated the statement Mostly True.
While we’re all waiting to see if the former governor announces a run for the Oval Office in 2016, Bush has been working hard at increasing visibility. One of his major talking points is the state of education, and how it should be improved. During a Nov. 20 speech, Bush said the Orange County school board voted to make sure a student couldn’t receive a grade lower than 50. That doesn’t really tell the story, though, because individual tests and assignments can get zeros, but the baseline grade can be adjusted for failing students to give them hope for climbing out of the cellar and passing. We graded this statement Mostly True.
Bush drew more attention for saying in a fundraising letter for his Excellence in Education Foundation that it’s extremely difficult to work your way out of poverty in the United States. We found several studies that found Americans indeed have a harder time climbing the rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. If you’re in the bottom two-fifths of income in America, you’re much more likely to stay there stateside than you are in almost every other major economy. We called the statement True.
This item, written after George Zimmerman was acquitted July 13, 2013, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, became popular again in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The fact-check looked into a popular set of stats on social media this summer: "In the 513 days between Trayvon dying, and today’s verdict, 11,106 African-Americans have been murdered by other African-Americans." We looked to verify those numbers and found it to be much too precise for what it was trying to convey, because no one has data accurate enough to support it. It also leaves out the context that while most blacks are killed by blacks, most whites are killed by whites. We rated the statement Mostly False.