The most recent articles on PolitiFact Rhode Island

The data behind DayOne's 1 in 8 claim

DayOne, the Sexual Assault & Trauma Center in Providence, says: "In Rhode Island it is estimated that one in eight women have been sexually assaulted during their lifetime." This number came up a couple of weeks ago at a news conference held by the R.I. State-Wide Task Force on Adult Sexual Assault. We were alarmed by this number and wanted to research further. One note before we begin: following the lead of PolitiFact national, we will refrain from using our "Truth-O-Meter" for this report. PolitiFact national has based its decision on the  well-documented underreporting of sexual assault. There is, as a result, no solid data on sexual assault as there is for robbery or murder.

Chafee declares; Here’s his PolitiFact scorecard

So Lincoln Chafee — Rhode Island’s Republican-independent-Democrat — is running for President.   The former governor of the smallest —  and at times quirkiest —  state has a PolitiFact record that is as mixed as his political lineage. During the four years that the former Republican U.S. senator served as first the independent and then the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, only once did PolitiFact judge one of his statements Half True.   More often, the Truth-O-Meter swung back and forth from True to False as Chafee battled a stagnant economy and a hostile General Assembly.

500 Truth-O-Meter rulings -- and counting

PolitiFact Rhode Island marks a milestone today -- our 500th Truth-O-Meter ruling. When The Providence Journal began our partnership with in June 2010, few in Rhode Island had heard of the organization, and few other news organizations had formal fact-checking operations. More than four years later, PolitiFact has become a verb in the Ocean State, as in "I’d better be careful what I say or they might ‘PolitiFact’ me. More:

John Legend got his facts right in Academy Award speech

Singer John Legend rocked the Academy Award show Sunday night with his stirring song "Glory," which won the award for Best Original Song.   In his acceptance speech, Legend talked about continuing racial discrimination in the United States, which he called "the most incarcerated country in the world," saying there are more black men "under correctional control than were under slavery in 1850."   PolitiFact Rhode Island examined a similar claim in December, from Diego Arene-Morley, president of Brown University Students for Sensible Drug Policy.   "There are more African-American men in prison, jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850," Arene-Morley said.   PolitiFact Rhode Island ruled Arene-Morley's claim True.   Read the facts behind John Legend's statement here.

PolitiFact R.I. launches Gina-Meter

During her long campaign for governor, Gina Raimondo talked at length about Rhode Island’s problems and what she’d do about them if elected. She made promises on issues ranging from jobs, education and transportation to gun control,  business regulations and aid for veterans. Will she keep them? To help voters keep score, PolitiFact Rhode Island has launched the Gina-Meter to track Raimondo’s progress.

The PolitiFact Rhode Island Top 10 fact-checks of 2014

From beach fees to marijuana, from pensions to slavery, PolitiFact Rhode Island covered a lot of ground in 2014, a year that was also marked by hard-fought political campaigns that generated many dubious claims. Overall, we issued 90 rulings that hit every stop on our Truth-O-Meter, from True to Pants on Fire. As the year ends, we thought we’d take a moment to review our most widely-read PolitiFact items of 2014. Here they are, in descending order, as determined by page views on our PolitiFact Rhode Island website:

PolitiFact names its 2014 Lie of the Year

The emergence of Ebola in the United States sparked a political and media frenzy, but many of the claims made were far from accurate. Collectively, they are PolitiFact's sixth annual Lie of the Year.

Before you vote, check our candidate ratings

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek playwright Aeschylus observed that in war, truth is the first casualty. In today’s political wars, if truth is not the first casualty, it’s definitely in harm’s way. In the eight weeks since the September primary, we’ve examined 21 claims from candidates or their supporters. We rated 11 Mostly False or worse on our Truth-O-Meter’s six-point scale. Nine were True or Mostly True, one was Half True. But recently, as the campaigns ramped up their attacks with increasingly harsh commercials and mailers, the ratings have definitely trended downward. More

Previewing the Providence mayoral debate


Welcome to a new look for Politifact

Today, PolitiFact Rhode Island has a new look as part of a new design for all the PolitiFact sites. Our overhaul includes responsive design, so our website works better on tablets and smartphones. When you browse the site on those devices, you’ll see a larger Truth-O-Meter rating along with easy-to-read text of the entire report. In addition to PolitiFact Rhode Island, the redesign extends to our PunditFact site, as well as our other state PolitiFact sites: Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. More:  

From True to Pants on Fire: Our guide to Tuesday's primary election

Over the past few months, PolitiFact Rhode Island has been busy fact-checking the many claims and counterclaims that have been made in the 2014 primary races. Not surprisingly, we found many to be untrue. We checked statements made by candidates for many different offices, but spent most of our time on the highest profile races -- the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor. In the end, when the last TV attack ad has aired, the last campaign mailer has arrived in the mailbox, the last robocall has landed in your voicemail, you -- the Rhode Island voter -- will have to decide who the best candidates are. As you make your choices, you can see all our rulings on our website,, which is searchable by candidate name, office sought, and subjects, such as "taxes," or "jobs." Here are summaries of our rulings in the governor’s races.

No lie! PolitiFact R.I. turns 4

Four years ago today -- June 25, 2010 -- PolitiFact Rhode Island published its first Truth-O-Meter rulings. Political discourse in the state hasn't been the same since. We constantly see politicians and other public figures hesitating when they speak, expressing concern that they will be fact-checked. It has made some -- but not all -- take more care in the facts they present to support their arguments, improving the level of political discourse in the state. Click on "more" to see how our rulings break down.

From True to Pants on Fire: A pre-debate candidate scorecard

Clay Pell, Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras have at least two things in common. They’re all running in the Democratic primary for governor. And they’ve all faced PolitiFact Rhode Island’s Truth-O-Meter, with varying outcomes. As the candidates prepare for Tuesday night’s Providence Journal/WPRI-12 debate, we thought we’d take a look at their PolitiFact scorecards.

March mailbag: Physically fit adults and carcinogens in marijuana

It's time once again for a peek into the PolitiFact Rhode Island's mailbag to look at some of the reactions we've gotten from readers to recent fact checks.

Red State debate top PolitiFact Rhode Island item in March

What piqued the interest of PolitiFact Rhode Island readers last month? According to our website data, they were interested in whether the poorest states are Red states, if today's young adults are fit for military service, and the degree to which cancer-causing chemicals are present in marijuana smoke.

Fact-checking U.S. Sen. Whitehouse's claims on climate change

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, one of more than two dozen senators who took part in an all-night talkathon this week on the Senate floor to warn about the dangers of climate change, was on familiar territory. Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, has now made 60 Senate speeches on climate change, returning to the floor each week the Senate is in session. He comes armed with facts and figures, and staff-produced charts and posters, to back up his warnings of drastic environmental and social consequences if serious actions aren’t taken to address global warming. Whitehouse and the other senators took turns from late Monday through Tuesday morning to call attention to an issue he says has largely been ignored. PolitiFact Rhode Island has fact-checked many of Whitehouse’s claims about climate change; overall, he has fared well with the Truth-O-Meter. Here's a sample:

Clay Pell's full-time residency in R.I. tough to measure

Has Clay Pell, one of the Democrats running for Rhode Island governor, lived a full calendar year in Rhode Island? Pell, the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, was asked that question twice during a television interview. He never answered with a simple yes or no, leading some to question how strong his ties really are to the Ocean State. Because Pell’s Rhode Island residency has become an issue in his first-ever run for political office, we took a closer look at his record. Here's what we found:

Our 2013 Top 10 rulings

In the past year, PolitiFact Rhode Island has published nearly 100 Truth-O-Meter rulings on such weighty issues as gun control, same-sex marriage and climate change. Not surprisingly, all of those topics were represented in our Top 10 rulings of 2013, along with some subjects that were, shall we say, slightly less serious. We thought we’d look back on our most popular items of the year -- and our most popular item of all time, which involved Congress. And baboons.

PolitiFact names Obama health-care claim its 2013 Lie of the Year

PolitiFact National has chosen the most significant falsehood of the year: President Barack Obama's repeated statement, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

Mailbag: "Are you kidding me?"

It's been a busy few months for PolitiFact Rhode Island, and it's not even an election year. We’ve checked claims on school test scores, whether the U.S. military prohibits donations to the Tea Party, Obamacare and a host of other topics. And many of our readers have let us know what they think of our rulings. We thought we’d share some of their comments with you.

U.S. Rep. James Langevin says 60 percent of the weapons used in crimes come from 1 percent of U.S. gun dealers

During a panel discussion on gun violence at the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Public Health Association, U.S. Rep. James Langevin startled the crowd when he declared that 1 percent of gun dealers nationally are responsible for selling 60 percent of the weapons used in crimes. His Oct. 21 comment took us aback as well. Only a tiny fraction of gun dealers have provided the weapons for most gun-related crimes in the United States? We decided to check.

R.I. Rep. Charlene Lima takes umbrage at Pants on Fire ruling

Our Truth-O-Meter rulings sometimes provoke strong reactions, especially when they involve pants aflame. One Rhode Island legislator recently took to the floor of the House of Representatives to respond to a Pants on Fire ruling she received.

Truth be told, PolitiFact Rhode Island turns 3!

There's a match being lit, but it's not being used to set someone's pants on fire. It's to light three birthday candles. PolitiFact Rhode Island is now three years old. We think it's a cause for celebration and, from what our readers have told us, they have reason to celebrate as well.

Gun claims examined by PolitiFactRI often misfire

The push for tougher gun control legislation continues in the General Assembly Tuesday, April 9, as state officials hold a news conference at the State House to promote a package of bills covering such issues as background checks, firearms safety, weapons sales and modifying penalties for existing gun laws.

PolitiFact Rhode Island's Top 10 for 2012

Over the last 12 months, PolitiFact Rhode Island issued 117 Truth-O-Meter rulings, on claims ranging from Obamacare to school prayer to foreign aid. All had some Rhode Island connection, but many of the most-read items -- based on traffic on our PolitiFact Rhode Island website -- focused on issues far beyond the state’s borders. Thanks to the reach of the Internet, many have remained popular long after publication, in part because PolitiFact, with affiliates in 11 states, has become a go-to reference for people seeking to separate fact from fiction. So as a farewell to the year, we thought we’d share with you the PolitiFact Rhode Island Top Ten Most Widely Read rulings for 2012:

PolitiFact's guide to Thanksgiving dinner

At Thanksgiving dinner, there's probably a good chance you'll end up sitting beside your uncle. You love your uncle, but you could do without all those chain e-mails that he forwards to you, the ones that claim the government is forcing you to get rid of your light bulbs, that "Obamacare" is going to put a tax on home sales and that President Barack Obama fits the biblical description of the Antichrist. (Note to uncles:     We're not really singling you out. Chain e-mails get forwarded by aunts, grandparents and plenty of other relatives.)

Before you vote, check the Truth-O-Meter

Over the last several months, candidates have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build themselves up and knock their opponents down. There have been attacks and counterattacks, scary TV ads, robo-calls and oversized campaign fliers clogging our mailboxes -- in other words, the fuel that sent our Truth-O-Meter into overdrive. Just in the weeks since the September primary, we issued two dozen rulings on claims made by candidates for federal and statewide offices. Not surprisingly, many were way off base. And -- perhaps surprisingly -- many were true. With the election just two days away, we decided to take a look back at some of our campaign rulings to help voters make up their minds.  Here’s a sampling from key races:

Before you vote Tuesday, check the rulings

  The lively and occasionally bizarre primary fight between U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline and business man Anthony Gemma in the 1st Congressional District has generated enough claims and counter-claims to keep our Truth-O-Meter spinning for weeks. But because the primary vote is Tuesday, we have taken a short break on fact-checking until the dust clears and the winners are picked. Meanwhile, as voters make up their minds, we thought we’d reprise some recent rulings in the 1st District race. Here’s a sample:

Checking the Truth-O-Meter readings for Cicilline, Gemma

The first major debate of Rhode Island's 2012 election season takes place Tuesday night at Rhode Island College as Democrats David Cicilline, the incumbent from the 1st Congressional District, and Anthony Gemma, the businessman making his second try for the seat, go head to head in an event co-sponsored by WPRI-TV and The Providence Journal. The PolitiFact Rhode Island team decided to use the occasion to revisit how the two candidates have scored on the Truth-O-Meter.

It's True! We're two years old!

Believe it or not, it's been two years since we published our first PolitiFact Rhode Island Truth-O-Meter ruling. On June 25, 2010, we joined a partnership with that has grown to include eleven states. Since then, we’ve published 230 Truth-O-Meter rulings, checking claims from politicians, talk-show hosts, bloggers, e-mailers, labor leaders and even a billboard.  Our goal remains the same: to help readers separate fact from fiction in the public discourse. For the record, here’s our scorecard so far: True: 44. Mostly True: 30. Half True: 37. Mostly False: 32. False: 55. Pants on Fire: 32. Remember, If you see or hear a claim you’d like us to check, please send it to [email protected]

The 38 Studios controversy: Of software sales and film credits

Curt Schilling's 38 Studios and his deal with the Rhode Island  Economic Development Corporation are in the news amid questions about whether the fledgling software company is in financial trouble. One option the company is reportedly seeking is taking advantage of the state's tax credit system for movie, television and video game productions. PolitiFact Rhode Island has examined claims made about the EDC deal and film tax credits in the past.  In light of the debate, we thought it might be useful to remind readers what we found.

Super Bowl legends explored and exposed

We've all heard the myths about Super Bowl Sunday. Half-time flushes disable sewage plants. It's the worst day of the year for domestic violence. It's the best day of the year for pizza and beer sales. Because Super Bowl mania has swept New England, we decided to take a closer look at some of the claims. Turns out, most are out of bounds.    

PolitiFact's guide to Thanksgiving dinner

Find yourself sitting beside a relative who has sent you lots of chain e-mails? Here's our guide on what to say. Stash it under the green bean casserole until you need it.

The Rhode Island pension debate: Truth is in short supply

As the debate over Rhode Island’s pension crisis intensified in recent months, PolitiFact Rhode Island was paying close attention to what public figures were saying about it. More often than not, we found misstatements, misinterpretations and outright falsehoods. We examined 11 statements related to pensions, dating to August 2010. The Truth-O-Meter scorecard: one True, one Mostly True, two Half True, three Mostly Falses and four Falses. As a service for readers –– and the legislators who will vote on the pension overhaul legislation Thursday –– we’ve assembled all our pension-related rulings. Here’s what you need to know about COLAs, hybrid plans, annuity charts, life expectancy and more.

Mailbag: 'Change your name to PolitiOpinion'

Readers had plenty to say about our item about an Occupy Providence protest sign. Let's just say on this ruling, we were the 1 percent and the readers were the 99 percent.

A change in the meter: Barely True is now Mostly False

After an overwhelming response from readers, we're changing the Truth-O-Meter. Barely True will now be called Mostly False.

Happy birthday to us!

It's been one year since we joined the growing PolitiFact family. Since then, we've revved up the Truth-O-Meter 121 times. But the fibs, half truths, exaggerations and, yes,  the ridiculous Pants on Fire claims keep coming.

Film tax credit controversy rises again

Is the state's film tax credit worth the cost to the state? There was plenty of debate in the House Finance Committee over the question Thursday in the wake of Gov. Chafee's proposal to eliminate it. The Chafee administration says the money could produce 100 times more economic activity if it were spent elsewhere. Supporters say the film tax credit is a good investment and has already created over 4,000 jobs. When we looked at the controversy last December, we found that different reports gave very different analyses. The matter is so contentious, we were unable to apply the Truth-O-Meter. But you can get a sense of the debate and follow the links to the reports -- and their varying conclusions -- by clicking on our analysis here.

Readers tell us what they really think

We've covered a lot of topics since last November's elections, from estate taxes to immigration to sex offenders to welfare. Despite predictions that we might struggle in the post-election lull, we knew that in Rhode Island, we'd never have a shortage of claims to run through the Truth-O-Meter. We've told you what we think. Now it's time to share what readers think of our work. (Hint: Not all of them agreed with our rulings.)

Tracking Governor Chafee's promises

Every politician makes dozens of promises throughout a campaign and Lincoln Chafee is no exception. From the day he announced his candidacy in January, Chafee made promises to voters on issues as diverse as illegal immigration and state pension plans. But will he keep them? Today, PolitiFact Rhode Island launches a new feature designed to answer that question.

The Ocean State's Top Ten

Since we launched PolitiFact Rhode Island June 25, we've powered up the Truth-O-Meter 74 times, fact-checking statements from politicians, party bosses, bloggers, talk radio hosts, interest groups and anonymous chain e-mailers. As we close 2010 after six months with the growing national PolitiFact team, we thought we"d look back on the items that were most popular with our readers, based on our daily Web traffic reports.

Reports offer multiple takes on the benefit of film tax credits like Rhode Island's

Earlier this month, when Rhode Island officials were celebrating the filming of the ABC-TV series "Body of Proof" in the Ocean State, there was a lot of talk about how much the production -- and earlier productions -- have helped the local economy. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed cited a specific number during the Dec. 3 State House reception when she said the state's tax credit for television and movie production was generating $8 for every $1 it costs the state to extend the credit. Is the benefit really that high? She was citing a URI study released in the spring that looked at both the direct and indirect economic impacts, along with the projected long-term benefit to the Rhode Island economy. But we found that when other states have evaluated the value of such credits, the immediate fiscal benefits are judged to be much lower than the URI estimate. We'll explain why.

Readers talk back to the Truth-O-Meter

Now that the campaign signs are coming down, the TV attack ads are fading into memory and the victors are enjoying their brief political honeymoons, we thought we'd share what some PolitiFact Rhode Island readers had to say about our work during the 2010 general election campaign. Judging by the volume, our readers are really passionate about two topics: Social Security and global warming. Our rulings on those issues drew far more comments, pro or con, than anything we've ever done. But we figure if the Truth-O-Meter can dish it out, it has to be able to take it. So here's a roundup from our mailbag:

The R.I. Voter Guide: What they said, how we ruled

Is it just us or has this seemed like a really long campaign? Maybe it's because the first candidate to announce a run for governor did so in May. Of 2009. Or maybe it's because there have been so many forums and debates -- more than 40 for the governor contenders alone -- that they've all blurred together. We've tried to keep up with all the charges, countercharges and promises, fact-checking the most interesting, provocative and outrageous. Here's a look back at Campaign 2010. We hope you find it useful as you make your choices.

Website ignores key facts in bid to tie Lincoln Chafee to organized crime in Ukraine

Given Lincoln Chafee's record of being willing to buck the system and the Chafee family's reputation, Rhode Islanders were jarred to hear the independent gubernatorial candidate being accused of consorting with someone who might have ties to organized crime. But that's what happened earlier this month when a local news website reported on Chafee's work at a foundation established by a Ukrainian billionaire. We explored Chafee's role there, and got different opinions on the politics and intrigue swirling around the effort to set up a think tank in one of the world's fledgling democracies.

What's in a name?

We've examined two claims made recently by gubernatorial candidates Frank Caprio and Lincoln Chafee. Caprio attacked Chafee for his handling of a 1990s teachers' dispute in Warwick.  We ruled Caprio's claim Half True. Chafee said changing Rhode Island's official name would require amending the U.S. Constitution. We couldn't rule definitively on that, but decided to share our research anyway.

Voting Tuesday? Check out the Truth-O-Meter first

We're giving the Truth-O-Meter a bit of a rest. For the past few weeks, the increasingly frantic primary campaigns have kept the Meter spinning so fast we worried it might catch on fire. So we decided to reprise some of the more than two dozen rulings we've made on candidates who will face voters in Tuesday's primary elections. We've rated claims on health care, campaign donations, illegal immigration, job creation, and whether one candidate told "3 lies in 10 seconds" about his opponent. We haven't gotten to every candidate. We've focused on the major races and what we considered to be the most clear-cut and interesting statements. Here are some of the highlights.

Readers give us our first report card

It's been almost two months since we launched PolitiFact Rhode Island. In that time, we've put 31 claims from politicians, talk-show hosts and others to the Truth-O-Meter test. We've tried hard to help readers sort fact from fiction in politics. And we know we'll be even busier as the primary and general election campaigns reach the boiling point. The politicians are certainly paying attention. Several have cited us during debates and other appearances; at least one is using a PolitiFact item in his campaign mailings. Our readers are paying attention as well. Some have thanked us for our work; others have criticized our conclusions or accused us of going too far or not far enough. Here's what a few of them had to say.

Gemma says he's more 'linked' than Obama

Like most political candidates these days, Democrat Anthony Gemma is using new media outlets, from Facebook to Twitter, to get his message out and keep in touch with voters. In fact, Gemma says he is making his web expertise a key part of his strategy in running for Congress in Rhode Island"s 1st Congressional District. One of Gemma's claims in particular, about topping President Obama on LinkedIn, a networking site, caught our attention. So we took a closer look.