PolitiFact: The Roundup

How does PolitiFact Georgia’s Truth-O-Meter work?

Our goal is to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fact-check statements by local, state and national political leaders, including lobbyists and interest groups. We then rate them on the AJC Truth-O-Meter.

To fact-check a claim, reporters first contact the speaker to verify the statement. Next, the research begins. Reporters consult a variety of sources, including industry and academic experts. This research can take hours or a few days or even longer, depending on the claim. Reporters then compile the research into story form and include a recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling.

The fact check then moves on to a panel of veteran editors who debate the statement and the reporter’s recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling. The panel votes on a final ruling; majority prevails.

The scribes at PolitiFact were on two hot topics last week — Georgia’s new gun law and the Benghazi controversy, which was back before the talk shows after the release of a new White House email.

We also looked at the claim by U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel that one of her opponents, David Perdue, had flip-flopped on his promise to be transparent about finances.

The May 20 primary elections are fast approaching. The campaign fliers are hitting mailboxes at a fast clip, and the charges and countercharges are flying. Look to PolitiFact for the latest and to see past fact checks of candidates.

Abbreviated versions of our fact checks from last week are below.

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Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com/georgia/.


Gov. Nathan Deal: Roughly 500,000 Georgians — or about 5 percent of the state’s residents — have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia weapons carry license.

When Deal signed a sweeping gun bill on April 23, he provided the crowd in attendance with a rough estimate that about 500,000 Georgians hold carry licenses. His staff said that information came from lawmakers who debated the legislation in the recent General Assembly session.

Estimates, it turns out, are all that are available on how many permits are out there. That’s because the state’s probate judges take the applications and send those numbers to the state. But they don’t know whether the applications are ever approved. The estimates range from 500,000 to 750,000.

The new state law also prohibits the creation of a database to keep up with who has a permit.

Deal gave what appears to be a conservative estimate. We deemed though that context was needed so it’s clear that it is just an estimate and that no one appears to have actual data.

We rated Deal’s statement as Mostly True.


Cokie Roberts: Said, in discussing the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, that Susan Rice “did say ‘a terrorist attack.’ It’s not that she put the whole thing on the video.”

Following the release of a new White House email, discussion on the Sunday morning shows turned back to the Sept. 11, 2012, deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

On ABC’s “This Week,” political commentator Cokie Roberts said former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice mentioned the prospect of terrorism in comments on the Sunday shows Sept. 16, 2012.

“When you read the transcript of those Sunday shows, actually Ms. Rice did say a ‘terrorist attack,’ ” Roberts said. “It’s not that she put the whole thing on the video.”

PunditFact, an affiliate of PolitiFact, found that Roberts misrepresented Rice’s talking points during that first round of Sunday show appearances after the attack. ABC did not return our request for comment.

Here are the main points: Rice referred to the video as the source of the conflict in all five interviews; on Fox and ABC, she said the attacks were not pre-planned but rather were related to the video protest; she mentioned “extremists” on CBS, CNN, NBC and ABC, but again connected them to the protest of the video and implied the uprisings were not planned as an act of terrorism; on CNN, for example, she described the attack as a “horrific incident where some mob was hijacked ultimately by a handful of extremists”; and she mentioned al-Qaida only on CBS and cautioned that she wasn’t sure it was involved; lastly, on no interview did she use the word “terror” or any variation.

Technically, Rice did mention extremism in most of her appearances, but she certainly wasn’t saying that the Benghazi attack was a pre-planned act of terror. In fact, she repeatedly emphasized that it wasn’t.

Our review of the transcripts from Rice’s appearances showed she consistently emphasized the importance of the video, and the only times she brought up the possibility of a terrorist connection was to downplay it.

We rate Roberts’ claim Mostly False.


U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel: Rival candidate David Perdue flip-flopped on releasing his tax returns.

Perdue, a former CEO of several large corporations, entered the U.S. Senate race to succeed Saxby Chambliss, promising “to be totally transparent” about his finances.

He filed the required financial disclosure report and recently showed 10 years worth of tax returns to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press.

Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state and another candidate for Chambliss’ seat, released her taxes on April 15 and encouraged others to do the same. Two other candidates agreed to do so. On April 21, Handel hammered at Perdue in a press release. He subsequently showed his returns to select media, not the public.

We rated Handel’s claim that he had flip-flopped as Mostly True.