Tag Archives: Russia

TV News Record: Face-o-Matic on Trump, McConnell, and Pelosi; PolitiFact picks “2017 Lie of the Year”

A biweekly round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we take a dive into nearly six months of Face-o-Matic facial recognition data. We also display the news clips behind PolitiFact’s top picks for lies and misstatements of the year, most of them seen and heard on TV news.

Face-o-Matic reveals cable news persistent patterns

With nearly six-months of data available, we’re finding certain persistent patterns on how cable networks make editorial choices in displaying the faces of President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders on TV screens.

First, Trump trumps the congressional leaders for on-screen face time, by many degrees of magnitude.

 

Second, of the four congressional leaders, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., gets the most face-time on TV, and MSNBC features his visage more than the other networks examined. Fox News features the face of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif. more than any other cable network.

Face-o-Matic, an experimental service, developed in collaboration with the start-up Matroid, tracks the faces of selected high level elected officials on major TV cable news channels: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC.  Face-o-Matic data is available to the media, researchers, and the public, updated daily here. Stay tuned: we are in the process of testing new faces to add to Face-o-Matic: living past presidents and recent major political party nominees.

PolitiFact announces “2017 Lie of the Year”

Our fact-checking partner PolitiFact has announced its annual Lie of the Year: President Donald Trump’s statement in May 2017 to NBC’s Lester Holt, “This Russia thing…is a made-up story.” Below is the interview on the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive.

Writes PolitiFact editor, Angie Drobnic Holan:

In both classified and public reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered actions to interfere with the election. Those actions included the cyber-theft of private data, the placement of propaganda against particular candidates, and an overall effort to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.

Trump’s statement about Russia was both the PolitiFact’s editors pick for Lie of the Year, and the top one chosen by PolitiFact’s readers in an online poll by “an overwhelming margin.” Readers also called out other fact-checks to highlight for the year, choosing from a list of ten from the editors, or writing in their own nominations.

The top vote-getter after Trump’s statement on Russia was Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador’s claim that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” “While the exact number of deaths saved by having health insurance is uncertain, the researchers we contacted agreed that the number is higher than zero–probably quite a bit higher,” writes PolitiFact reporter Louis Jacobson, who rated the claim “Pants on Fire.”

In third place was Sean Spicer’s claim, “that was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period,” referring to the presidential inauguration in January 2017. PolitiFact at the time rated that claim “Pants on Fire”: “Spicer suggested 720,000 attended Trump’s inauguration, while organizers said they expected 700,000 to 900,000, and Trump himself estimated 1.5 million. All of those figures are less than the 1.8 million people who attended Obama’s 2009 inaugural.”

To see more video of fact-checks chosen by PolitiFact’s readers and editors as lies or misstatements of the year, see this list, which includes links both to TV news clips of public officals making statements on the air, along with links to fact-checks of those statements.

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TV News Record: McCain returns to vote, Spicer departs

A weekly round up on what’s happening and what we’re seeing at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman. Additional research by Robin Chin.

Last week, Sean Spicer left his White House post and Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director, made his mark; Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz., returned to the Senate floor to debate–and cast a deciding vote on–health care reform; and fact-checkers examined claims about Trump’s off-the-record meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and more.

McCain shows up in D.C. – and on Face-O-Matic

Last week, after we launched Face-O-Matic, an experimental Slack app that recognizes the faces of top public officials when they appear on TV news, we received a request from an Arizona-based journalism organization to track Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz.. Soon after we added the senator’s visage to Face-O-Matic, we started getting the alerts.

News anchors talked about how McCain’s possible absence because of his brain cancer diagnosis could affect upcoming debates and votes on health care.

Reporters gave background on how the Senate has dealt with absences due to illness in the past.

Pundits discussed McCain’s character, and his daughter provided a “loving portrait.” Then coverage shifted to report the senator’s return to Washington, and late last night his key no vote on the “skinny” health care repeal.



White House: Spicer out, Scaramucci in 

After Sean Spicer resigned as White House communications director, Fox News and MSNBC offered reviews of his time at the podium.

On Fox News, Howard Kurtz introduced Spicer as someone “long known to reporters as an affable spokesman; he became the president’s pit bull,” and went on to give a run-down of his controversial relationship with the press. The conclusion, “He lasted exactly, six months.”

MSNBC offered a mashup of some of Spicer’s most famous statements. These include: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” and “But you had a – you know, someone who is as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Late this week, Ryan Lizza published an article in The New Yorker based on a phone call he received from the new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, in which the new White House communications director used profanity to describe other members of the White House staff he accused of leaking information. That article soon became fodder for cable TV.



Schumer, Ryan weigh in on Mueller

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller widens his investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections, speculation is running high on TV news that President Donald Trump might fire him.

Fox News ran a clip of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., NY., saying, “I think it would cause a cataclysm in Washington.”

MSNBC ran a radio clip from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis.:  “I don’t think many people are saying Bob Mueller is a person who is a biased partisan. We have an investigation in the House, an investigation in the Senate, and a special counsel which sort of depoliticizes this stuff and gets it out of the political theater.”



Fact-check: Transgender people in the military would lead to tremendous medical costs and disruption (lacks context)

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump wrote, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

For FactCheck.org, Eugene Kiely reported, “Although Trump described the cost as ‘tremendous,’ RAND estimated that providing transition-related health care would increase the military’s health care costs for active-duty members ‘by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.’ That represents an increase of no more than 0.13 percent of the $6.27 billion spent on the health of active-duty members in fiscal 2014.”



Fact Check: Nixon held meetings with heads of state without an American interpreter (true)

Speaking on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, said:  “Apparently, President Nixon used to do it because he felt, didn’t really trust the State Department, at that point, providing the translators and didn’t necessarily want information getting out, leaking, that he would want to keep private.”

“True,” wrote Joshua Gillan for PolitiFact: “Presidential historians, historical accounts and Nixon’s own memoir show this was the case. But it’s notable that even in the example most comparable to Trump’s meeting with Putin, when Nixon used only a Soviet translator during two meetings with Brezhnev, official records of the meeting exist.”



Fact-check: Allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines will mean premiums go down 60-70% (no evidence)

Not long before the Senate took up health care reform, President Donald Trump said “We’re putting it [allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines] in a popular bill, and that will come. And that will come, and your premiums will be down 60 and 70 percent.”

FactCheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported the “National Association of Insurance Commissioners — a support organization established by the country’s state insurance regulators — said the idea that cross-state sales would bring about lower premiums was a ‘myth.’”



Fact-Check: When the price for oil goes up, it goes up, and never goes down (false)

In an interview Sunday about the new Democratic Party national agenda, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., said, “We have these huge companies buying up other big companies. It hurts workers and it hurts prices. The old Adam Smith idea of competition, it’s gone. So people hate it when their cable bills go up, their airline fees. They know that gas prices are sticky. You know … when the price for oil goes up on the markets, it goes right up, but it never goes down.”

For PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson reported, “This comment takes a well-known phenomenon and exaggerates it beyond recognition. While experts agree that prices tend to go up quickly after a market shock but usually come down more slowly once the shock is resolved, this phenomenon only occurs on a short-term basis – a couple of weeks in most cases.”

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TV News Record: Donald Trump Jr makes “email” popular on TV again

This week the term “email” took on a new meaning in the annals of political controversy, President Donald Trump traveled to Poland, and the Senate continued to struggle with health care reform.

Email back on TV following Trump Jr.’s release of email exchange

Email as a technology may be on the way out (or just evolving), but its place in political history, already assured, got an even bigger boost this week when Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday released a June 2016 email chain in which he exclaimed “I love it” to the prospect of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton through Russian intermediaries.

The term “email” is spiking again on TV news broadcasts, though it has not yet climbed to levels in the lead up to the November 2016 elections. In those months, particularly Fox news networks hammered on storylines of both hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to do official business while serving as secretary of state.

However, with congressional and federal investigations of possible Russian tampering with the elections underway, we are early in the life cycle of this story. Stay tuned, and remember that searching terms on TV news is just a few clicks away on Television Explorer, which is fueled by TV News Archive data.

Search of term “emails” on Television Explorer, fueled by TV News Archive data. (Click on image to see larger.)



Following the TV 

The Watergate movie “All the President’s Men,” made the term “follow the money” an inspiration for journalists everywhere; thanks to the TV News Archive, enterprising reporters and researchers can “follow the TV” – find and link to past statements of public officials relevant to a current story.

With this week’s news putting Russia’s involvement in the election back in the headlines, past statements by members of the Trump camp become interesting watching. For example, here’s former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in July 2016, saying “that’s absurd” to the allegation of a Putin-Trump connection.  Here’s Donald Trump Jr. in July 2016 saying it was “disgusting” to say the DNC email hack was perpetrated by the Russian government to support Trump. And here is advisor Kellyanne Conway in December 2016 saying “absolutely not” to a question about whether the Trump campaign was in contact with Russians trying to influence the election.



Factcheck: Obama knew about Russian interference in election and did nothing about it (mostly false)

At a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda last week, President Trump said “Barack Obama when he was president found out about this, in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August. Now the election was in November. That is a lot of time he did nothing about it.”

According to Lauren Carroll reporting for Politifact, the Obama administration took several steps after learning of the interference. Among them: “Obama personally confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him to back off… On Oct. 7, the Obama administration publicly identified Russia for the first time as being behind election-related hacks, issuing a joint statement from Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence… Also, throughout August and up through the election, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson encouraged state-level election officials, through official statements and phone calls, to protect voting-related systems from cyber intrusions…However, the Obama administration took its most significant actions against Russia after Nov. 8. In late December, Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats and suspected intelligence agents to leave the United States, and he also imposed narrow sanctions on some Russian individuals and organizations.”



Factcheck:  Billions are pouring into NATO because of the Trump administration (four Pinocchios)

During a speech in Poland last week, President Donald Trump said about about his calls for increased defense spending by other countries for NATO, “As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.”

“These budget decisions were made during the 2016 calendar year, before Trump became president,” reported Michelle Ye Hee Lee, for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. She quoted Alexander Vershbow, former deputy secretary general of NATO, who said: “Who deserves the most credit? Vladimir Putin. It was the invasion of Crimea, the launching of insurgency backed by Russia in Eastern Ukraine, that was the wake-up call for the majority of the allies.”



Factcheck: hundreds of thousands will die if the Senate health care bill passes (can’t say)

With the Senate debating health care reform, FactCheck.org checked a recent statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif, where she said, “We do know that… hundreds of thousands of people will die if this bill (Senate health care bill) passes.”

Lori Robertson and Robert Farley wrote, “the research uses terms like ‘could’ and ‘suggests’ and ‘cannot definitively demonstrate a causal relationship,’ not the definitive ‘will’ favored by opponents of the bill. We can’t say whether any specific projection is a correct or valid number.”

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TV news fact-checked: Comey, Schumer, McMaster, Mueller

It was a yet another extraordinary week in U.S. politics, with a series of explosive news reports centering on President Donald Trump. The TV News Archive is saving history as it happens, as well as linking relevant fact-checks by FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker to statements by public officials.

On Sunday shows, Schumer demands release of tapes–if they exist

Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, D., N.Y., made the rounds of Sunday news talk shows, appearing on “Meet the Press” and “State of the Union,” calling for a special prosecutor to investigate possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia among other matters. In this clip, Schumer says Trump should turn over tapes–the possibility of which were raised by Trump in a tweet on May 12–if they exist, of the president’s conversations with now former FBI director James Comey.

In this piece titled “Trump vs. Comey,” FactCheck.org reporters Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley trace the history of statements by the president and Comey about their discussions. They note, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly refused to answer whether Trump has such recordings. In his interview with Jeanine Pirro, Trump said, “Well, that I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about that.”

McMaster reacts to report that Trump shared intelligence with Russians

After The Washington Post reported, on May 15, that Trump had revealed “highly classified information” to Russian envoys visiting the White House last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster defended the president that day and at a press conference the following day. Among his assertions: “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.”

“The key phrase is “as reported,” wrote Glenn Kessler, for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, in a piece that dissects McMaster’s statements before the press. “With this language, McMaster in theory could dispute any element, no matter how small, as false. He notably did not say the story was false.” John Kruzel, writing for PolitiFact, traced the “shifting” explanations from the White House on what happened at the meeting with the Russians, including McMaster’s statements.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller appointed special counsel

Wednesday, May 17 brought the news that the U.S. Department of Justice appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate possible connections between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Here PolitiFact reporter Lauren Carroll gives the basics on Mueller’s background and experience.

The TV News Archive contains numerous historical clips of Mueller, who served as FBI director under  Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, including this brief farewell interview he gave to ABC in 2013, where he talks about terrorism.

Mueller and Comey have an earlier association at a high-drama moment in U.S. history. In 2014, Comey told “60 Minutes” about the day that he and Mueller visited a bedridden John Ashcroft, then attorney general, to tell him they would resign rather than reauthorize a controversial domestic surveillance program under pressure from the White House. Ashcroft deferred to Comey, and, as recounted by The Los Angeles Times, “It was only when President George W. Bush agreed to listen to Comey and Mueller and restructure the program did resignation plans go away.”

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TV News highlights: sanctuary cities, cabinet wealth, and more

By Katie Dahl

In our weekly highlights reel of fact-checked TV appearances by public officials, we feature our fact-checking partners’ reports on sanctuary cities, what Roger Stone knew about the Podesta emails, the financial wealth of Trump’s cabinet, the loss of U.S. factories as a result of China joining the World Trade Organization, and the percentage of the Texas state budget spent on Medicaid.

Claim: 80% of Americans oppose sanctuary cities (depends on the question)

On March 27, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy: the U.S. Department of Justice would start holding back funding from cities–known as “sanctuary cities–that don’t enforce immigration law. In doing so, he cited public opinion polling: “According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for a crime should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has also used this statistic.

Providing context, Michelle Ye Hee Lee wrote for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, “There’s no perfect polling question, and we recognize sanctuary policies and immigration detainers are not easily distilled into one question.” She noted that other polls show that “when specifically asked about pulling federal funding from sanctuary cities” just 42 percent of Americans agreed. She also pointed out that the 80 percent figure comes from a poll using an opt-in Web panel sample, “which we often warn readers against relying on” unless other measures have proven it accurate over time.

Claim: Roger Stone predicted John Podesta would be a victim of a Russian hack (no evidence)

At a hearing on March 20, Rep. Adam, Schiff, D., Calif., said, “Is it a coincidence that Roger Stone predicted that John Podesta would be a victim of a Russian hack and have his private emails published, and did so even before Mr. Podesta himself was fully aware that his private emails would be exposed?”

Writing for FactCheck.org, Robert Farley reports that one of these assertions is not established fact: “There is nothing in the public record so far that proves Stone, a political operative and longtime Trump associate, predicted the Podesta email hack…”

“Stone says his Aug. 21 tweet about Podesta—that it would soon be Podesta’s ‘time in the barrel’ — had nothing to do with hacked emails, though. Two days prior, Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, quit the campaign amid media reports about prior business dealings with Russia-aligned leaders in Ukraine. Stone said he was aware that Podesta also had business ties to Russia, and that journalists were beginning to look into those. That’s what prompted the tweet, he said.”

Claim: Trump cabinet worth more than 100 million Americans (mostly true)

While talking about the president’s budget proposal and calling into question his campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., claimed that “if you add up the net wealth of his cabinet, it has more wealth than a third of the American people total–close to 100 million people.”

PolitiFact’s Jana Heigl reported that although “[i]t is impossible to calculate the exact net wealth of Trump’s cabinet… It also doesn’t really matter how rich Trump’s cabinet members exactly are.” According to Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of Berkeley, “‘The bottom one-third of American households ranked by wealth own approximately nothing.’” Heigl added that it’s “‘because some either have a very low or even negative net wealth, due to high debt.’” She concluded “‘it does not take a lot to ‘have more wealth than a third of the American people,’ like Schumer claimed, Zuchman added.”

Claim: U.S. lost 60,000 factories since China joined WTO (mostly true)

During a speech in Louisville, Ky., President Donald Trump claimed: “Since China joined—that’s another beauty—the WTO in 2001, the U.S. has lost many more than 60,000 factories.”

Lauren Carroll reported for PolitiFact that “the United States has, in fact, lost more than 60,000 factories since 2001, when China joined the WTO and became a bigger player in the world economy. And quite a few economists believe opening up trade with China has had a significant and negative effect on American manufacturing, though it’s not a universal view.” However,  economic historian Bradford DeLong with the University of California, Berkeley, told PolitiFact, “about one-tenth of factory closures over the past decade or so have had to do with China, but that would have happened whether or not China joined the WTO.”

Claim: Texas spent close to 1/3 its budget on Medicaid last year (mostly true)

While advocating the passage of the American Health Care Act, Rep. John Cornyn, R., Tex., said,  “We know that the states and the federal government spend an awful lot of money on Medicaid. In Texas, for example, my state spent close to a third of its budget on Medicaid last year, a third of all state spending.”

According to a report from the Texas Legislative Budget Board, as reported by PolitiFact’s W. Gardner Selby, “the 2016-17 Texas budget devoted $61.2 billion in funds from all sources, including state and federal aid, to Medicaid… and that amount over the two years running through August 2017 accounted for 29.3 percent of $209.1 billion in All Funds appropriations.” If you narrow the view to Texas funds spent on Medicaid, “22 percent of state funds alone was appropriated for Medicaid.”

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TV News highlights: NATO, Russian influence, coal miners, and more

By Katie Dahl

This week’s highlight reel of TV News moments fact-checked by our partners at PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker feature the presidential tweet during the congressional hearing about Russian influence on the election, what Germany does and doesn’t owe to NATO and the U.S., what a coal miner and single mom do and don’t pay in taxes, whether GOP amendments were included in Obamacare, and a breakdown of the statistics we’ve been hearing about the 9th Circuit.

Claim: Germany owes money to NATO and the U.S. for defense (false)

After a face-to-face meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” The tweet was featured on “BBC World News Today.”

PolitiFact’s Allison Graves’ analysis was that “Trump is misunderstanding how NATO’s joint defense is paid for, and that Germany doesn’t owe anything.” She explained that “[a]s of 2014, NATO’s collective agreement directed members to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending by 2024… Trump likely was alluding to the fact Germany has not yet met the NATO target commitment for overall defense funding… Germany only pays 1.2 percent of their GDP on defense spending.” The misunderstanding was that “Germany doesn’t pay that money to NATO or the United States… [t]he United States decides what level of military spending it wants to have, as do all other NATO  members.”

Laicie Heeley, a military budget expert at the Stimson Center, a defense policy think tank, told Graves, “‘Trump seems to represent the NATO alliance as a licensing deal — one in which countries like Germany pay the United States for its power and influence…This is not the case.’”

Claim: NSA, FBI said ‘Russia did not influence electoral process’ (false)

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael S. Rogers were asked questions about Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election. While the hearing was still going on, President Trump tweeted, “NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.”

According to Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley of FactCheck.org, “that’s not what Comey or Rogers told the committee.” Lauren Carroll wrote for PolitiFact: “Comey and Rogers said they believe Russia meddled in the race leading up to Election Day, chiefly by cyber-infiltrating the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. Contrary to Trump’s tweet, they also said the intelligence community did not assess whether Russia’s actions actually had a measurable impact on the election outcome or public opinion.”

The president’s tweet itself became part of the hearing: “When later asked about the presidential tweet, Comey said it did not reflect what he and Rogers had said: ‘It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today,’” reported Glenn Kessler from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.

Claim: Coal miners and single moms pay for public broadcasting (it’s $.20 and $0)

While talking about the president’s proposed budget cuts, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney asked, “can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

By asking the question, he seemed to insinuate that coal miners and single moms pay for public broadcasting now. Kessler looked at the numbers using the H&R Block tax calculator and the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that “single mothers in Detroit, most of whom are living in poverty, likely pay no taxes at all and instead would be receiving funds from the U.S. government via the Earned Income Tax Credit.” And in three examples of coal mining jobs, Kessler reported that a coal miner “owed no income taxes,” a loading machine operator “paid about 20 cents of his taxes to the CPB,” and supervisors of production workers “paid 60 cents.”

Claim: Hundreds of Republican amendments were adopted in Obamacare (half true)

During a conversation about political maneuvering and obstructionism related to the proposed American Health Care Act, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D., Ill., defended the actions of Democrats offering amendments and said “hundreds of Republican amendments were adopted in the ACA.”

Reporting for PolitiFact, Gabrielle Healy found “788 amendments were submitted during the ACA’s markup in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee (HELP). Three quarters of them were filed by the committee’s Republican members… Of those, 161 were adopted in whole or revised form.” She also noted that many of the Republican amendments were “technical in nature.” An expert, “Timothy Jost, emeritus professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law,” told her that ‘the basic statement that hundreds were adopted is wrong.’”

Claim: less than 1/10 of 1 percent of 9th Circuit decisions are overturned by the Supreme Court (not very helpful)

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been in the news recently because of its decision to halt the president’s travel ban executive order. President Trump said in a news conference last month that “80 percent” of the court’s decisions are overturned. Then more recently, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D., Mich., used a very different figure, saying “less than one-tenth of one percent of 9th Circuit decisions are overturned.”

Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported “it’s more complicated than that… Most cases reviewed by the Supreme Court get reversed, so the number or rate of reversals is not necessarily reflective of the court’s performance.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker also reported that in: “the 2014-2015 term, the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate was about 60 percent, below the average rate of 72 percent. In the 2015-2016 term, the latest year of data available, the 9th Circuit court’s reversal rate was 80 percent, and the average rate was 67 percent. This is the figure that Trump cites. …But the 80 percent figure represents a small fraction of the cases that the 9th Circuit hears in a given term — roughly one-tenth of 1 percent. This is the figure that Conyers cites.” In the end, Lee wrote, the statistics both Trump and Conyers used “[do] not add much to the debate,” because they “lack context.”

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TV news highlights: wiretaps, Gitmo detainees, and more

By Katie Dahl

Our weekly TV News highlight reel features fact checks by reporters at The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, PolitiFact, and FactCheck.org of President Donald Trump, his spokespeople, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Claim: Obama wiretapped Trump Tower (unsupported)

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this week with an allegation that President Barack Obama tapped his phones during the election. He wrote: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

FactCheck.org’s Eugene Kiely broke down Trump’s claims, the sources he used, and the White House press team’s response, writing “there is no evidence that the FBI wiretapped Trump’s phone or his campaign offices in Trump Tower. Indeed, the director of national intelligence flatly denied it. [hyperlink added]”

Glenn Kessler, reporting for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, wrote that the author of the Heat Street article, the “most important one” of the articles the White House provided as evidence for the president’s claims, now says she “never reported there was wiretap and instead pointed the finger at Breitbart.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary for the White House, said “[e]verybody acts like President Trump is the one that came up with this idea and just threw it out there… There are multiple news outlets that have reported this.” For PolitiFact, Allison Graves wrote that Huckabee’s defense of the tweets is “False.” Lauren Carroll went further and concluded that “given recent comments from White House spokespeople, it appears more likely that Trump took several media reports about legitimate intelligence investigations into his associates’ possible Russia ties and wove them into a new, unsubstantiated theory that Obama himself did something illegal.”

Claim: Clinton impeached for far less (two Pinocchios)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., drew a comparison between the circumstances of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the disclosures about communications between Attorney General Sessions and the Russian ambassador. “I remind you that this Congress impeached a president for something so far less, having nothing to do with his duties as president of the United States,” she said. Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker examined the two cases and observed: “If one were to weigh Pelosi’s claim based on whether Sessions and Clinton lied under oath, it’s clear Clinton’s case is not ‘far less’ than Sessions’s. But the content of Clinton’s lies (his sex life) was ‘far less’ important than the content of Sessions’s statements (about potential foreign influence in U.S. elections).”

Claim: Jeff Sessions lied to Congress (unclear)

During Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing in January, Sen. Al Franken, D., Minn., asked “what will you do” if evidence surfaces to support a CNN report that “‘[t]here was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’” In answering the question, Sessions said “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians.” Then March 1, The Washington Post reported that Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador twice.

In response to the now confirmed meetings, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted Sessions “lied under oath” and called for his resignation. FactCheck.org’s Robert Farley reported, though, that “legal experts say it would be difficult to prosecute a perjury charge against Sessions, given the ambiguity of the context of his statement.” In defending himself, Sessions said “I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” which he argues was the focus of Franken’s question.

Lauren Carroll for PolitiFact similarly reported, “[I]t’s not 100 percent clear that Sessions made an intentionally false statement, though he appears to have omitted relevant information.” One result is that the attorney general has recused himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.” Louis Jacobson offered additional context in answering “four questions about when senators meet with ambassadors.”

Claim: People go to Planned Parenthood for mammograms (referrals mainly)

Echoed in a statement in a press conference yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y.,  claimed in a tweet that “#Trumpcare cuts @PPFA funds, hurting millions of women who turn there for mammograms, maternity care, cancer screenings & more.” Michelle Ye Hee Lee wrote that “[m]ammograms have come to symbolize whether Planned Parenthood truly is a health-care organization, as supporters say, or mainly an abortion provider that masquerades as a reproductive health organization, as opponents say.” But, reported Lee, “Planned Parenthood does referrals for mammograms… It does not have mammogram machines at its affiliate clinics.”

Claim: Obama released 122 Gitmo detainees now back on battlefield (mostly false)

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee released under the Obama administration was killed in a U.S. military airstrike in Yemen this month. President Trump reacted on Twitter, writing, “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” But Robert Farley reported “it’s only nine former detainees. The other 113 were released under President George W. Bush.”

Lauren Carroll weighed in as well, writing “Trump’s claim that the Obama administration released 122 prisoners from Guantanamo that “returned to the battlefield” is right on the numbers but wrong on who is to blame.”

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Due to an editing error now fixed, we inadvertently referred to Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D., Calif., when we meant to refer to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., March 10, 2017.

TV news highlights with fact checks

By Nancy Watzman and Katie Dahl

Last week, our national fact checking partners concentrated on two events featuring President Donald Trump: a press conference on February 16, and his rally in Melbourne, Florida on February 18. The Conservative Political Action Conference is being hosted this week. Look out for fact-checking of President Trump’s speech soon.  Here are some highlights, along with TV news segments from the Trump Archive and TV News Archive.

Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus addressed the conference yesterday. Bannon again called the press the “opposition party.”

Claim: Obama released Gitmo detainee that recently became a suicide bomber (wasn’t him)

Deputy assistant to the president, Sebastian Gorka, on Fox & Friends: “So President Obama released lots and lots of people that were there for a very good reason, and what happened? Almost half the time, they returned to the battlefield. This individual… goes and executes a suicide attack in Iraq.” At FactCheck.org, Farley wrote “Gorka wrongly suggested the man was released by President Barack Obama. He was transferred… President George W. Bush… then wrongly claimed that among detainees released by Obama, ‘almost half the time, they returned to the battlefield.’ According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, about 12.4 percent of those transferred from Gitmo under Obama are either confirmed or suspected of reengaging.”

Claim: there are 13, 14, 15 million undocumented people in the country (too high)

At a press briefing this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said “12, 14, 15 million people [are] in the country illegally,” but Yee gave him Three Pinocchios for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. “Spicer’s statement that there are about 12 million people in the country illegally is safely within the margin of error in credible demographics research. But once he enters the realm of ‘13, 14, 15 million’ or ‘potentially more,’ his claim becomes problematic.”

Claim: Thomas Jefferson said “nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” (out of context)

At his rally in Florida, Trump said President Thomas Jefferson had said that “nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself….becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”

However, “Trump selectively quotes from Jefferson here, who, for most of his life, was a fierce defender of the need for a free press,” Kessler wrote for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. PolitiFact staff made a similar point, using this quote as evidence: “And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Claim: something happened in Sweden. (Not exactly)

By far the quote that received the most attention from the president’s rally were his comments about Sweden: “We’ve got to keep our country safe … You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden… Sweden? Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

“This was a very strange comment. Nothing had happened the night before in Sweden,” wrote Kessler for The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.  A White House spokesperson said later that he “was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general and not referring to a specific incident.”

PolitiFact reporter Miriam Valverde reported on the Fox news interview on Swedish crime rates, which aired the night before the rally and purportedly inspired Trump’s comments. Valverde quoted several Swedish experts countering the argument that crime rates are rising in Sweden, including political scientist Henrik Selin, who said that “[i]n general, crime statistics have gone down the last (few) years, and no there is no evidence to suggest that new waves of immigration has lead to increased crime.”

Robert Farley reported for  FactCheck.org, “Swedish authorities and criminologists say President Donald Trump is exaggerating crime in Sweden as a result of its liberal policy of accepting refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.”

Claim: The stock market has hit record numbers (mostly true)

The President mentioned the economy at a press conference, saying “The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world.” At PolitiFact, Miriam Valverde rated this as “Mostly True,” reporting “All three major stock indexes closed at record highs for five days in row on Feb. 15.”

Claim: the media is less trustworthy than Congress (mostly false, but…)

Also at the press conference, President Trump excoriated the media, saying journalists “will not tell you the truth and treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve,” that the “press is out of control,” and that the media has a “lower approval rate than Congress, I think that’s right, I don’t know.”

PolitiFact reporter Jon Greenberg rated the trust claim as “mostly false”: “Congress actually ranks below the news media, according to surveys from three different research groups spanning several years. In two polls, mistrust in the media broke 40 percent, which is hardly anything to brag about. But in those studies, mistrust in Congress was over 50 percent.”

Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee at The Washington Post’s Fact Checker agreed that Congress ranks lower than the media–but that that isn’t saying much: “[B]esides Congress, only ‘big business’ ranks lower than the media — but it’s enough to make Trump’s claim incorrect.”

FactCheck.org chimed in, noting that the “public’s approval of Congress is lower than its trust in the media,” but pointed out there’s more public trust in Trump than in the media: “Trump would have been correct to say that trust in the media is even lower than approval of himself. According to Gallup, Trump’s approval rating stood at 41 percent, as of the week ending Feb. 12, while the public’s trust in the media was down to 32 percent.”  

Claim: Trump had biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan. (False)

President Trump claimed his victory marked “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” NBC reporter Peter Alexander challenged him on the spot, saying, “Why should Americans trust you when you have accused information they have received as being fake when you have been providing information that is fake?” Trump didn’t answer the question, but rather pivoted by asking whether the reporter agreed that his victory was substantial.  

According to our fact-checking partners, there have been three presidents since Reagan who received more electoral college votes than Trump. FactCheck.org noted “Trump’s Electoral College victory margin ranks 46th out of 58 presidential elections.” Kessler and Lee wrote: “Of the nine presidential elections since 1984, Trump’s electoral college win ranks seventh.”

Claim: Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States (false)

President Trump asserted a claim the Washington Post Fact Checker has given Four Pinocchios, that Hillary Clinton “gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States,” going on to say, “you know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons and other things like lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.” insinuate that the uranium could be used in a Russian nuclear weapon. FactCheck.org wrote: “The deal Clinton had a role in approving gave Russia ownership of 20 percent of U.S. production capacity — not existing stocks of uranium. Furthermore, Clinton alone could not have stopped the deal; only the president could have done that with a finding that national security would be endangered. Lastly, none of the uranium goes to Russia. That would require export licenses.”

 

See Trump Archive fact checks in one place

Robin Chin, Katie Dahl, Tracey Jaquith, Roger Macdonald, Nancy Watzman, and Dan Schultz are contributing research and engineering for the Trump Archive. 

Now it’s easier to find fact checks of specific statements by President-elect Donald Trump in our new Trump Archive, an experimental collection of TV news clips featuring Trump–including fact checks of his press conference on January 11, his first since July 2016.

We’ve got 500+ fact checks by FactCheck.org, the Pulitzer-prize winning PolitiFact, and The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker embedded within the Trump Archive; these are now viewable on this dedicated page, with the option of downloading a csv containing links to fact checks, links to TV news clips, date of airing, and topics covered.

The Internet Archive’s Trump Archive launched on January 5 with 700+ televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts related to President-elect Donald Trump, and it continues to grow.

We created the Trump Archive in response to journalists and scholars who had trouble finding clips of Trump speaking through the caption search function in our TV News Archive library. We are hand-curating this collection as an experimental prototype for learning how to engineer solutions so similar archives can be created–whether by the Internet Archive or members of the public–about other elected officials and topics of interest. We are looking for collaborative partners to explore artificial intelligence approaches to creating such collections, with an ease and scale far beyond what can be accomplished now by hand.

The list of fact checks in the Trump Archive includes claims made by Trump during his press conference on January 11 covering issues from health care to ISIS to Trump’s connections to Russia. Here’s a sampling.

Health care

Trump said: “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. It’s imploding as we said. Some states have over 100 percent increase.”

FactCheck.org: “Only Arizona has an average increase that high, and 84 percent with marketplace coverage in 2016 received tax credits to purchase insurance.”

PolitiFact: “While the average premium increase in Arizona rose by 145 percent in 2017, it is the only state with a triple-digit increase. Alabama saw the second highest increase, 71 percent. On the other end, a few states saw decreases. The average premium increase across all states was 25 percent.”

The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker: “Trump exaggerates here, and appears to misunderstand a fundamental part of the Affordable Care Act. State-by-state weighted average increases range from just 1.3 percent in Rhode Island to as high as 71 percent in Oklahoma. But the most common plans in the marketplace in 2017 experienced an average increase of 22 percent. These plans have been used as the benchmark to calculate government subsidies.”

ISIS

Trump: “I mean if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed.”

FactCheck.org: “Trump continues to oversimplify the situation by placing the entirety of the blame for the creation of ISIS on Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.”

PolitiFact: “This is a more tempered version of Trump’s previous Pants on Fire claim that Obama and Clinton “founded ISIS.” Experts told PolitiFact that you can reasonably criticize the Obama administration’s withdrawal from Iraq, lack of support to anti-Assad rebels in Syria, and intervention in Libya for contributing to the power of ISIS. But the timeline was set in motion by the Bush administration.”

The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker: “Trump greatly simplifies a complex situation.”

Russia

Trump: “I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia.”  

PolitiFact:  “It’s true that Trump has yet to build a hotel or tower in Russia, but he has eyed the Moscow skyline for decades.

We don’t know for sure about the extent of Trump’s business dealings in Russia, because he hasn’t released his tax returns. But his son, Donald Trump Jr., said in a 2008 real estate conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”

We do know that Trump agreed to host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, a $20 million deal facilitated by a Russian real estate mogul and billionaire Aras Agalarov. (Trump also cameoed in Agalarov’s son’s dance-pop music video). He also made millions selling a 17-bedroom Florida mansion to a Russian billionaire.

The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker: “Trump is being misleading when he says he has stayed away from Russia. Trump repeatedly sought deals in Russia. In 1987, he went to Moscow to find a site for luxury hotel; no deal emerged. In 1996, he sought to build a condominium complex in Russia; that also did not succeed. In 2005, Trump signed a one-year deal with a New York development company to explore a Trump Tower in Moscow, but the effort fizzled.

In a 2008 speech, Donald Trump Jr. made it clear that the Trumps want to do business in Russia, but were finding it difficult. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son said at a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”