Mailbag: Hillary Clinton edition
With the 2016 presidential campaign already well under way, all eyes are on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. That includes readers irked with our coverage of the former secretary of state. Here is a selection of emails (edited for length and style) from readers about fact-checks related to Clinton.
Several readers took issue with our Mostly False rating for a claim by Clinton that "not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one." Noting that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was a potential presidential candidate who had stuck to that position, we rated Clinton’s claim Mostly False.
"You found only one Republican candidate out of a dozen or so that did back a path for immigrants to become citizens. The others either do not back a path to citizenship or are not clear on their position. Shouldn't that be a Mostly True or Half True at worst?"
Another reader agreed.
"So you can find one Republican who advocates a path to citizenship, yet you call her statement Mostly False? You are political hacks for the Republican Party. You need to rename yourself PolitiHack. Her statement is Mostly True, not Mostly False. I am going to begin documenting how your determination of what is ‘fact’ clearly favors the Republicans."
One reader thought Clinton’s claim that "all" of her grandparents had immigrated to America should have been rated Pants on Fire rather than merely False. We found that only one of her parents was an immigrant.
"I am 63 years old. I knew all four of my grandparents, and I knew where they were born and raised. Your rating is too soft. Do you seriously think Hillary didn’t know that three out of four of her grandparents were not immigrants?"
A reader was skeptical of our analysis of Rush Limbaugh’s claim that "85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary." We rated that claim Mostly False.
"How can we completely declare anything as fact without an independent audit giving the results directly to you? It would seem problematic to call anything regarding most nonprofits 'facts.’ Even the experts say you can disagree on the percentages. With that being said, wouldn't it be safer to call it 'Undetermined’?"
Several readers had problems with our check of Clinton’s claim that "the United States is 65th out of 142 nations and other territories on equal pay." We determined that she had cherry-picked her statistic; another measure shows the United States second only to Germany in the lack of gender-based wage discrimination for men and women who hold the same job. We rated the claim Half True.
"I love what you do at PolitiFact, but your recent fact-check on pay inequality between men and women missed the point entirely. The relevant question is not whether men and women are paid the same for the same jobs, but whether men and women are able to get the same jobs, and if not, then why are women's jobs paid less than men's? These questions are about structural sexism, and are equally as troubling, and more relevant, than the oversimplified notion that women and men are the same, but women just choose to do jobs that pay worse."
Another reader had the opposite reaction.
"Clinton engaged in ‘...a bit of cherry picking...’?! How about a bushel? How about second best of 30? Pants on Fire, you biased socialist."
One reader took issue with our handling of a claim by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, that "when we moved into the White House, we had the lowest net worth of any family since Harry Truman." We rated that True.
"How long did it take you guys to go through all the statements made by Bill and Hillary and find the one that is true among all the others that were false? And on top of that, it is irrelevant. It’s not how much wealth a politician has before going into office that matters, it’s how much they have after leaving office and then how much they start making because of their political connections."
Finally, one reader questioned why we even bothered to check Clinton’s claim that "the United States invented the community college. Nobody else had ever done anything like it." We rated that Mostly True.
"So, of all the serious U.S. and worldwide issues facing us, you decide the most important fact to check on the sole, scandal-ridden Democratic candidate for president is whether she was correct when she said we invented community colleges? I can't begin to tell you what a helpful piece of information that is. Thank you for your unbiased, hard-hitting coverage of Hillary."