No, really -- it's True
PolitiFact Wisconsin is known for spotlighting statements that aren't true.
Only about 1 in 10 of our more than 900 fact checks, since we launched in September 2010, get rated True -- as opposed to Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.
So today we give center stage to 10 of the most interesting statements that received that relatively rare rating.
The 10 we’re highlighting include claims made by Gov. Scott Walker, President Barack Obama, Starbucks and Michael Moore. They cover topics as diverse as wealth inequity, federal deficits, Benghazi and beer.
(Go here to see all of our True claims.)
Let’s start with wealth inequity, as three of the 10 are on that topic.
The documentary filmmaker made that statement during a speech he gave at a rally in Madison in March 2011. It has been one of our most enduring fact checks in terms of the number of clicks it gets online.
In 2010, the net worth of the Forbes 400 was $1.37 trillion, exceeding the net worth of the poorest 60 percent of U.S. households, which was $1.26 trillion. As we noted in that item: Many Americans make a good income, have some savings and investments, and own a nice home; but they also have a mortgage, credit cards and other bills. Many -- including those who lost a job and their home in the recession -- have a negative net worth.
In March 2015, as part of its "Race Together" campaign, Starbucks published an eight-page insert in USA Today that included a series of statements about race. One of them was: "White people control almost 90 percent of the nation's wealth." With the coffee company’s chief executive officer due in Milwaukee a few days later, we decided to check the claim.
The latest figures were for 2013, from the Federal Reserve, and showed that the $58 trillion of net worth owned by white people amounted to 90 percent of the nation’s net worth.
The liberal advocacy group made that claim in December 2013, based on 2010 figures, which were the latest available at the time. The wealth of six Walton family heirs was $89.5 billion -- as large as the wealth of the bottom 48.8 million families in the United States, or nearly 42 percent of all American families.
Usually we fact check politicians. But sometimes we evaluate political statements that get shared on social media.
With these tweets, checked in January 2015, we found that in fact the GOP hadn’t won a presidential race without Richard M. Nixon (vice-president and later president), George H.W. Bush (vice-president and later president) or George W. Bush (president) on the ballot.
5. Scott Walker: Says he "paid one dollar for" a sweater at Kohl’s.
As he pursues a presidential bid, Walker has cast himself as an average guy. While campaigning in New Hampshire in March 2015, he even pointed to the brownish-colored sweater he was wearing and declared: "We paid one dollar for it with our Kohl’s Cash."
We found that, taking advantage of deep discounts and Kohl’s Cash -- a coupon of sorts that is generated based on how much a customer purchased in an earlier visit to the store -- he could have easily gotten a sweater for $1 out-of-pocket.
We found, as the Republican U.S. senator from Wisconsin said, that Hillary Clinton’s State Department did reduce security before the deadly terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012, which resulted in the first murder of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.
7. Barack Obama: "We cut our deficits by more than half."
That claim was made by Obama in a speech in Milwaukee in September 2014. In fiscal 2009 -- which ended in September 2009 and was the last budget of President George W. Bush -- the deficit reached $1.4 trillion. By the end of fiscal year 2013, the deficit had fallen to $679.5 billion in dollars unadjusted for inflation. That’s a 52 percent drop.
In checking this claim by the Democratic congressman from Madison, we found the Badger State was first when it banned employment discrimination against all gay and lesbian people in 1982.
That statement by Taylor, a Democratic state Assembly member from Madison, was made in April 2014. We found there were legal and operational obstacles to making this scenario a reality. But Taylor’s statement was about the state of the technology, and her scenario is technically possible now.
Walker’s Democratic challenger in the 2014 gubernatorial election made that claim after being asked in an interview whether she preferred Spotted Cow or Summer Shandy, both Wisconsin-brewed beers. She chose Spotted Cow and was correct in saying it’s sold only in Wisconsin.