The most popular fact checks of July


(Richard A. Lipski/The Washington Post)

This month’s round-up of the most popular Fact Checker columns covers a wide variety of topics, from taxes to Obamacare to diplomacy, and once again shows the enduring interest in the Clintons.

Programming note: Just as Congress goes on recess in August, so does The Fact Checker. Please keep sending tips for fact checks, especially if you attend a town hall held by your local lawmaker and hear something fishy. The column will return after Labor Day.

Click on the headline to read the full column.

1: 4 Pinocchios for a rocker’s off-base claims about taxes and the ‘1 percent’

The Fact Checker does not often rate the factual accuracy of statements by rock stars, but Gene Simmons’s remarks on taxes and the top 1 percent seemed like a teachable moment. (He said: “The 1 percent pays 80 percent of all taxes. Fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes.”Some readers disagreed, complaining that it was silly to vet his statement. Nonetheless, he earned Four Pinocchios.


 

 

2: Obama’s claim that the GOP has ‘blocked every serious idea’

Before this fact check appeared, the president three times had claimed “Republicans in Congress have blocked every serious idea to strengthen the middle class.” But we found at least three bills that had passed this year that Obama had lauded as helping the middle class. He earned Three Pinocchios—and then adjusted his language in his next speech.


 

 

3:  Democrats on Hobby Lobby: ‘Misspeaks,’ ‘opinion’ and overheated rhetoric

This was a survey of over-the-top language used by Democrats concerning the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling that, as a closely held company, Hobby Lobby was not required to pay for all of the birth-control procedures mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers attributed the language to either misspeaking or offer an opinion, so no Pinocchios were awarded. But we warned:  “All too often, lawmakers leap to conclusions that are not warranted by the facts at hand.”

 

 

4: Sebelius’s claim that Obamacare has brought ‘affordable coverage’ to 22 million people

We dissected a claim by former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius that “there are now 22 million people with affordable coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.” While elements of her calculation was correct, she included some dubious items, such as 5 million from plans sold directly by insurance brokers. So she earned Two Pinocchios for an inflated figure.


 

 

5: Bill Clinton’s strained comparison of diplomatic deaths in different administrations

The former president, seeking to rebut attacks on his wife over the deaths at a U.S. facility in Benghazi asserted that there was “zero” Republican outrage during the “ten different instances [that] occurred when President Bush was in office where American diplomatic personnel were killed around the world.” But he was wrong: At least one of the deaths led to congressional hearings and a government report. Moreover, Clinton ignored the similar one-off attacks that have killed diplomatic personnel during Obama’s presidency, making it an unbalanced comparison. He earned Two Pinocchios.


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Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.
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Glenn Kessler · July 31