Friday, 28 September 2018

Fact Checker: Kavanaugh, Ford and a chaotic week in Washington

Democracy Dies in Darkness
Fact Checker
The truth behind the rhetoric

Kavanaugh, Ford and a chaotic week in Washington

The scene on Capitol Hill this week was not that different than it was 27 years ago when Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas. Three women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The president passionately defended his pick. A day long Senate hearing followed, where one of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, testified before the Senate Judiciary committee.

We've noted before that when journalists write about incidents that occurred long ago, especially serious allegations like those described by Ford, a key goal is to find people who will say that they heard about the incident at the time. Such contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chances that a person is making up a story for political purposes.

As a reader service, we outlined the various allegations against Kavanaugh alongside accounts from corroborators and other witnesses.

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The story of Beto O'Rourke's drunken car accident

During a debate, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (R-Tex.) flat out denied leaving the scene of an accident that happened when he had been driving drunk, saying the whole thing was a "terrible mistake." But his denial didn't square with recently released police reports.

O'Rourke crashed on the night of his 26th birthday. One report from the night said he "almost fell to the floor" when he tried to get out of the car and he totally failed at standing on one leg. Another report said he "advised in a slurred speech that he had caused the accident." The results of the breathalyzer test were well above the legal limit and both of the reports say O'Rourke tried to leave the scene.

There were several inconsistencies in the police reports — the color of O'Rourke's car, the direction he was traveling. But even if one is inclined to dismiss them, they are the only contemporary records we have. And given his blood alcohol content at the time of the crash, O'Rourke's memory 20 years after the fact is not nearly as credible.

We believe in second chances, but O'Rourke should revise his answer to this question. In the meantime, he earned Four Pinocchios.



A daily dose of fact-checking

Meet Factstream. Designed by our friends at the Duke University Reporters' Lab, it is a new app that offers a daily stream of the latest fact-checks as they are published. You can receive notifications for Four Pinocchio claims, search the latest fact-checks from us and other fact checkers ( and PolitiFact) and follow live fact-checking during major political events. In short, it's a live database of facts that can access anywhere, anytime from an iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad.

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You can also reach us via email, Twitter (@GlennKesslerWP, @mmkelly22, @rizzoTK or use #FactCheckThis), or Facebook (Fact Checker). Read about our rating scale here, and sign up here for our weekly Fact Checker newsletter.

Scroll down for this week's Pinocchio roundup.

— Meg Kelly

Beto O'Rourke's false claim that he did not try to leave the scene of a DWI
The Senate hopeful, in a debate, earns Four Pinocchios for flatly disputing a witness account in police records from his DWI arrest 20 years ago.
President Trump's claims about NAFTA and the U.S. auto industry
The president says NAFTA cost "millions of jobs" in the United States, but most studies say the trade deal had a modest effect.
Dueling ads on manufacturing in the race for Paul Ryan's seat
The Democrat in the race to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) claims his rival is "lying" about being involved in manufacturing.But his claims don't add up.
Fact-checking President Trump's statements about sexual misconduct allegations
At his marathon news conference, President Trump dismissed sexual misconduct allegations against himself with misleading or false claims
Brett Kavanaugh and allegations of sexual misconduct: The complete list
Here's a guide to all of the sexual misconduct claims made against the Supreme Court nominee -- and the evidence offered to back them.
Fact-checking President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly
The president offered other world leaders a "greatest hits" version of his favorite claims from his campaign rallies. We look at 14 key claims.
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