Fake News Watch

Attempting to debug the internet… emptying the ocean with a thimble.

• John Fugelsang’s tweet about the Secret Service and  President Trump is going crazy online. Here’s the deal: The Secret Service cannot accept gifts from a subject they protect, not even hotel rooms and travel expenses or renting tables and lights near Mar-a-Lago. The Trumps are not directly sending the SS a bill, but the SS is required to pay for it, including rent in Trump Tower for their security station. What has never happened before (that I’m aware of) is a president who owns multiple resorts and golf courses and goes there often. The SS is therefore indirectly paying the Trumps, but it’s required by law.

If you want more data, the Washington Post tracked how much of Trump’s travel has been at his own resorts. As of that report, he had been in office 346 days and spent 116 of them at a Trump property, or 33.5 percent.

• Oh for the love of… No, the senior-citizen couple who died in New Jersey on July 7 were NOT scheduled to testify before a grand jury against Hillary Clinton. Neither of them had a damn thing to do with the pharmaceutical industry, much less the company that blew up the price of EpiPens, which also has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton, which never seems to faze 4chan. The house blew up because of natural gas, possibly caused by poor installation of a new stove.

The Fourth of July meme that showed Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump celebrating Independence Day by visiting troops in three cases and golf in the fourth is not accurate. None of the photos were taken on any Fourth of July, and the Trump image on the golf course is several years before his presidency.

• There is no Congresswoman Ateesha Nubbins, and no one is proposing a law to establish an upper-age voting limit declaring no one over age 60 can vote.

• Immigration fun: No, immigrants cannot apply for asylum at U.S. embassies or consulates, no matter what happens in the movies. This one was repeated by a sitting Congressman. Asylum claims must be made while physically present in the U.S., and they have a year to do so. Also: No, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters did not tell CNN that Trump should “nominate an illegal immigrant” to SCOTUS. It’s a doctored image, and your first clue should be that “illegal immigrant” is not AP style. No, California does not have “39 percent illegals” in public school. It’s about 3 percent, about 12 percent parents. The same idiot meme that’s been circulating for decades says 66 percent of California births are “to illegals on Medi-Cal.” It was 15 percent in 2011, dropped to 12.6 percent two y ears later and keeps dropping.

Meanwhile, we usually don’t bother with things that are true, but people have been yelling Fake News at the word that a new ICE task force is charged with investigating and revoking citizenship from naturalized citizens. Sorry, folks, it’s absolutely true and it IS a new initiative, not people freaking out over something that’s always existed. It hasn’t happened since McCarthyism.

• Did Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh say presidents shouldn’t be investigated while in office? Analysis says: Sort of. In 2009, he wrote an article for the Minnesota Law Review in which he cited his experience with the Starr Report and opined that Congress could consider a law exempting the president from criminal prosecution because of the dangers of politicizing. However, legal experts say in context, the statement was about temporary immunity as granted by Congress, which has not been passed. Instead, U.S. v. Nixon still holds, which upholds that the president is not immune from subpoenas. Politifact has much more detail and rates it half-true.

• Speaking of SCOTUS, that pic of Sens. Schumer, Warren and Booker saying they don’t want a judge who follows the U.S. Constitution is rated “pants on fire” by Politifact, as the only source showing any of them saying these quotes is “The Babylon Bee,” which describes itself as “your trusted source for Christian news satire.” And no, of course the Notorious RBG  did NOT write that “pedophilia is good for children.” It’s a gross misinterpretation of an attempt to make a statutory rape law gender-neutral, in recognition that any gender can commit sexual assault.

• Of 98 statements of fact at President Trump’s campaign rally in Montana last week, 76 percent were false, misleading or unsupported by evidence, according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker database. They focus only on material fact, not trivialities or opinions. Some are perhaps just misleading – calling on Sen. Tester a liberal Democrat when he’s voted with Trump more than one-third of the time – while others are… um. Read it here yourself – it’s long.

• My Favorite Fakery of the Week: No, Disney is NOT planning to build a new theme part in Escanaba, Mich.

Trufax: Walt Disney DID consider building a second Disneyland in St. Louis. It was to be called Riverfront Square, incorporating prototypes for Pirates and the Caribbean and New Orleans, among others based on Davy Crockett and the Meramec Caverns, etc. It’s not far from Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Mo., after all, and the famous Main Streets of Disneyland and Walt Disney World tend toward a stylized impression of Marceline.

So what happened? Beer. Legend has it that August Busch Jr. publicly insulted Walt after the MouseMan declared they would not sell beer in a St. Louis park. Financing and ownership were probably also factors, and then Walt started buying up acres in central Florida….

Note: This feature does not take a stance on political issues. It is solely in favor of fact over fiction, at least in the public discourse.

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