Claim vs. fact, the database


Geraldine Sealey
April 29, 2004 3:13AM (UTC)

You can now search a database of conservative distortions courtesy of the Center for American Progress. And the folks there are asking for help in making the database as robust as we know it can be, bursting at the seams with right-wing claims that are just plain wrong.

From the CAP: "Conservatives have spent the last 20 years distorting reality and getting away with it. That is about to change. The Center for American Progress has launched this new database project to chart the dishonesty and lies of conservatives -- and compare them with the truth. In this database, each conservative quote will be matched against well-documented facts. And we need your help. If we're missing a lie or distortion you know of, please submit an entry. If it checks out, we will gladly add it to the database."

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Here's an example. Under "Miscellaneous distortions," for Rush Limbaugh, you get an already impressive list, but one that can only represent a fraction of what's out there:

Date: 9/1/1994
Quote/Claim: "If you have any doubts about the status of American health care, just compare it with that in other industrialized nations." --Told You So, p.153
Fact: The United States ranks 19th in life expectancy and 20th in infant mortality among 23 industrialized nations, according to the CIA's 1993 World Fact Book. The U.S. also has the lowest health care satisfaction rate (11 percent) of the 10 largest industrialized nations. - Health Affairs, vol. 9, no. 2

Date: 9/1/1993
Quote/Claim: "Don't let the liberals deceive you into believing that a decade of sustained growth without inflation in America [in the '80s] resulted in a bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots. Figures compiled by the Congressional Budget Office dispel that myth." --The Way Things Ought to Be, p.30
Fact: CBO figures show that in 1980, the richest fifth of our country had eight times the income of the poorest fifth. By 1989, the ratio was more than 20 to one.

Date: 9/1/1993
Quote/Claim: "We closed down a whole town--Times Beach, Mo.--over the threat of dioxin. We now know there was no reason to do that. Dioxin at those levels isn't harmful." --The Way Things Ought to Be, p.163
Fact: "The hypothesis that low exposures [to dioxin] are entirely safe for humans is distinctly less tenable now than before." - New England Journal of Medicine, 1/24/91

Date: 9/1/1993
Quote/Claim: "The worst of all of this is the lie that condoms really protect against AIDS. The condom failure rate can be as high as 20 percent. Would you get on a plane -- or put your children on a plane -- if one of five passengers would be killed on the flight? Well, the statistic holds for condoms, folks." --The Way Things Ought to Be, p.135
Fact: "There is substantive evidence that condoms prevent transmission if used consistently and properly." - Dr. Joseph Kalaghan, AP, 8/29/93

Date: 11/17/2003
Quote/Claim: "I avoided the subject of drugs on this program."
Fact: "Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. If people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up [to jail]." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/5/93

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Date: 6/28/1993
Quote/Claim: "Ladies and gentlemen, we now know why there is this institutional opposition to low tax rates in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It's because [low tax rates] are biblical in nature and in root. When you can trace the lowering of tax rates on grain from 90 percent to 20 percent giving seven fat years during the days of Pharaoh in Egypt, why then you are tracing the roots of lower taxes and rising prosperity to religion.... You can trace individual prosperity, economic growth back to the Bible, the Old Testament. Isn't it amazing?"
Fact: Genesis 41 is about the wisdom of instituting taxes, not cutting them. After Pharaoh had a dream that prophesied seven fat years to be followed by seven lean years, Joseph advised him to "appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years...and lay up corn under the hands of Pharaoh." In other words, a 20 percent tax on the grain harvest would put aside food for use during the famine. Pharaoh took Joseph's advice, and Egypt avoided hunger during the famine. - Genesis, Bible

Date: 6/15/1995
Quote/Claim: "Banks take the risks in issuing student loans and they are entitled to the profits."
Fact: Banks take no risks in issuing student loans, which are federally insured.

Date: 6/15/1995
Quote/Claim: "The poorest people in America are better off than the mainstream families of Europe."
Fact: The average cash income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans is $5,226; the average cash income of four major European nations--Germany, France, United Kingdom and Italy--is $19,708.

Date: 4/29/1994
Quote/Claim: "It has not been proven that nicotine is addictive, the same with cigarettes causing emphysema
Fact: Nicotine's addictiveness has been reported in medical literature since the turn of the century. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's 1988 report on nicotine addiction left no doubts on the subject; "Today the scientific base linking smoking to a number of chronic diseases is overwhelming, with a total of 50,000 studies from dozens of countries." - Encyclopedia Britannica Medical and Health Annual, 1987

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Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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