Our top 5 fact-checks and reports for November 2014
Here are PolitiFact’s top 5 most-viewed fact-checks and special reports of November 2014, counting down to the most popular story.
We looked back at 12 fact-checks about immigration in light of President Barack Obama’s Nov. 20 announcement that he intended to prevent deportations for broad categories of people living in the United States illegally. We summarized fact-checks that looked at the limits of Obama’s executive authority; the failed attempts by Congress to enact bipartisan legislation; immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border compared with those who overstay visas; and how much security is deployed at the border. We also looked at ridiculous claims, like the Pants-on-Fire falsehood that fighters from the Islamic State have been captured near the border.
In a case of satire running amok and posing as truth, a website called American News claimed that a woman had been executed by Obamacare’s death panels. The only problem: The woman was one of the characters from The Golden Girls. Our not-too-difficult research showed that death squads are not a part of the Affordable Care Act, and you can still catch Dorothy on Golden Girls reruns most nights.
Over the years, Obama has been asked many times about using executive authority to change immigration rules. He’s been asked overarching questions as well as more specific ones about splitting up families or freezing deportations for parents. We looked carefully at Obama’s answers to those questions, and we found that his position has clearly changed. We rated his claim that he hadn’t as False.
The events surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., have dominated cable news and gotten the talking heads talking, which in turn has our sister site, PunditFact, fact-checking. PunditFact looked at claims from Rudy Giuliani, Juan Williams and John Oliver on topics like conviction rates by race for murder; when police are charged in shooting incidents; and the rapid escalation of SWAT raids over the years. A similar story from August, "Fact-checking the Ferguson shooting," was also popular with readers in November.
Election Day was Nov. 4, 2014, but it doesn’t look like readers were too pleased with the results. Our top fact-check of the month was a Facebook meme that said Congress has 11 percent approval ratings, yet 96.4 percent of incumbent lawmakers were re-elected in 2014. We found small differences in the actual percentages -- Congress had roughly a 14 percent approval rate, and the incumbent re-election rate may have ended up as low as 95 percent, pending recounts -- but the point of the meme was solid: Voters hold Congress in low regard, yet they re-elect almost everyone. We rated the claim True.