August 24, 2015

Happy Birthday to PolitiFact!

Eight years ago this week, we launched a new website for accountability journalism that we called PolitiFact.

A project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, PolitiFact debuted to fact-check the 2007 primary field. Back then, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards led the Democratic field, while Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain were the most popular Republicans. Our reports proved popular; eight years later, we’re still fact-checking.

A lot has changed in those years. We have seven, soon to be eight, state-based fact-checking sites, and we launched PunditFact to fact-check the talking heads in 2013.

What’s stayed the same? Our independence and our in-depth reporting. Our primary purpose is to give voters the information they need to govern themselves in a democracy.

In honor of PolitiFact turning eight, here are the eight most popular reports we’ve published in the past year. We’re counting them down to the most popular.

Turn to Angie Drobnic Holan's story from PolitiFact.

Quinnipiac poll: Most Florida voters oppose Iran deal


A new poll shows President Barack Obama remains unpopular in Florida -- as does his nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama's job approval rating is upside down 41-56 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. Respondents oppose the Iran agreement by 61-25 percent but support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The president's proposed federal rules to reduce pollution from coal-burning plants -- not a big issue in Florida -- won support of 69-25 percent in the poll. The survey's error margin was 3 percentage points.

Quinnipiac also polled in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and found that in all three places, voters oppose efforts by Republicans in Congress to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

They also support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally (for Florida, that support was at 53 percent, with 12 percent supporting no path to citizenship and 31 percent saying the immigrants should be forced to leave).

August 20, 2015

10 years after Hurricane Katrina, a look at President Barack Obama's campaign promises

A decade after Katrina, the largest city the hurricane struck is still on the road to recovery.

The initial federal response to the catastrophe received a boatload of criticism, including from then-candidate Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential bid. Visiting New Orleans, Obama blasted how the Bush administration dealt with the hurricane.

"America failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast long before that failure showed up on our television sets. America failed them again during Katrina. We cannot — we must not — fail for a third time," Obama said on Aug. 27, 2007. "But tragically, that's what's happening today. And that's what needs to change."

Obama then laid out his plan for New Orleans and made a few promises. On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we looked at eight of those promises centered on the city of New Orleans and found that Obama has largely kept his pledges to protect against future storms, restore wetlands and rebuild schools and hospitals. In some cases, such as housing relief or improving public transit, things haven’t turned out exactly as envisioned. He’s broken one promise entirely, he’s kept four and compromised on three others.

Keep reading the story about Obama's promises from PolitiFact and The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans.

July 24, 2015

Conditions tied to possible President Obama visit to Cuba

via @ngameztorres

The Obama administration will evaluate the progress of its new Cuba policy by considering issues such as the arrests of dissidents, access to the Internet and the development of the island’s private sector, according to participants in a recent White House meeting.

The administration would like to see improvements in those areas when it considers a possible visit of President Barack Obama to Cuba, but such progress would not be a prerequisite for the visit as White House spokesman Josh Earnest has indicated, White House and State Department officials told participants in the meeting, which was closed to the news media.

Several people invited to the Wednesday gathering, who asked that they not be identified, told El Nuevo Herald that the government officials mentioned that a possible decision on a trip would be evaluated early next year or in January. The White House denied that any specific month was mentioned.

Participants said Ben Rhodes, deputy National Security Council adviser, told the gathering that a possible Obama trip to Cuba would be evaluated at the beginning of 2016, based on the progress achieved by Cuban authorities on issues that the U.S. government considers to be important, such as human rights.

Rhodes also compared a possible Obama visit to Cuba with the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall, one source at the meeting told the newspaper.

More here.

July 22, 2015

Marco Rubio says Obama has 'no class,' cites Daily Show interview, likens him to Donald Trump


With Jon Stewart in his final weeks as host, President Obama made a visit Tuesday to Comedy Central's The Daily Show

Obama gave a lengthy interview in which he joked he had signed an executive order forbidding Stewart from leaving the show. He also defended the deal his administration negotiated to try to contain Iran's nuclear program.

"When you hear the critics talk about, 'Well, it's a bad deal; we could have got a better deal,' you then ask them, 'Well, what represents a better deal? What is it that you think could happen?'" Obama said.

"Typically they're vague, and they fall back on, 'Well, if you'd beat your chest a little bit more... Or if you'd brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations, then everything would be fine.'" ("Let's not get crazy," Stewart interjected.)

The Cheney line drew criticism Wednesday morning from Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, himself a Daily Show veteran, who said on Fox News that he didn't like Obama's joke.

Rubio wove in the criticism of Obama as he slammed rival Donald Trump, telling Fox and Friends that Trump's style isn't fit for the Oval Office.

"It is important that we have– to conduct the presidency, it has to be done in a dignified way, with a level of class," he said. " don't think [Trump's] behavior the last few weeks is either dignified or worthy of office he seeks."

"We already have a president now that has no class," Rubio continued, referring to Obama. "I mean, we have a president now that does selfie-stick videos, that invites YouTube stars there, people that you know eat cereal out of a bathtub... You just saw the interview he did right now where he goes on comedy shows to talk about something as serious as Iran. The list goes on and on.

"It is important for us to have a presidency that restores dignity and class to the White House, and I don't believe that some of the language that Mr. Trump is employing is worthy of the office. I just do not."


July 16, 2015

After decade in prison, Miami man granted clemency by Obama

By Rosalind Adams

A decade ago, Marcus Richards wrote to a judge from his cell in Cross City, near Florida’s Panhandle, pleading for “a second chance at life.” In neat block letters, Richards asked the judge for mercy, citing his involvement in his local church and community, despite a guilty plea on cocaine charges.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Mickle replied a few days later that he did not have the power to reduce Richards’ sentence of 20 years in prison, the mandatory minimum at the time, according to court filings. But this week, President Obama did grant Richards’ request: He is one of 46 non-violent drug offenders whose sentences were commuted on Monday. Ten of the offenders were from Florida.

“When I got the news, I was running around hollering and screaming, thanking God,” said Richards’ mother, Barbara Baker, who said her son called her from prison on Monday to relay the news that he would be released Nov. 10.

The announcement marked the largest number of commutations in one day by a U.S. president since the 1960s and is part of a larger effort by Obama to address criminal justice reforms as well as the country’s crowded prisons.

More here.

July 01, 2015

Obama announces opening of embassies with Cuba

Casting aside more than a half century of hostilities, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the United States and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and open respective embassies.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, he called the rapprochement “a historic step” in efforts to bring the two countries and their people together. The president said Secretary of State John Kerry would soon travel to Havana to “proudly raise the U.S. flag over our embassy.”

The United States and Cuba held four rounds of talks — two in Havana and two in Washington — to reach agreement on the terms for opening embassies and renewing diplomatic ties after Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro jointly announced on Dec. 17 that the two countries planned to work toward normalization.

He said that since then he was seen “enormous enthusiasm for this new approach.”

Turn to Mimi Whitefield's story here.

June 26, 2015

June 25, 2015

Miami LGBT activist shushed trans woman who interrupted Obama at reception

via @steverothaus

Just as an undocumented transgender woman began repeatedly shouting “Not one more deportation!” at President Barack Obama during a White House LGBT pride reception, the man standing next to her — one of Miami’s best-known gay political activists — told her to stop.

“My comment to her after she said the same thing three times, I turned to her and said, ‘Enough! You made your point and now you're being disrespectful. You need to calm down, you’re ruining it for everyone else. You have to stop now,’” said Joseph Falk, an Obama fundraiser and former board chairman of South Florida LGBT-rights group SAVE. “She didn’t.”

Falk and SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima just happened to be standing next to Jennicet Gutiérrez as she began shouting at the president during an annual East Room reception for national LGBT pride month.

“Listen, you’re in my house,” Obama told Gutiérrez, who continued to shout, amid a growing chorus of boos and hisses from other LGBT activists. “You don’t — come on. It’s not — you know what, it’s not respectful when you get invited to somebody — You’re not going to — you’re not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. No, no, no, no. No, no. No. Shame onyou. You shouldn’t be doing this.”

More here.


June 22, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Lopez-Cantera trails Murphy, Obama and Scott still in 'job approval hole'

Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has not made it official yet, but a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll says he is already trailing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the 2016 U.S. Senate race.

If a matchup were held today, Lopez-Cantera would be behind by 40 to 28 percent. He is expected to announce on July 15. Also trailing Murphy is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis: 39 to 31 percent. 

The news is equally grim for Gov. Rick Scott and President Barack Obama. Both remain mired in negative approval ratings in Florida, according to the poll taken June 4-15 of 1,147 Florida voters that has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. Obama's job approval rating in Florida is 43 to 51 percent while Scott's is worse with 39 percent of voters having a favorable view of him and 49 percent who don't.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Quinnipiac poll: Lopez-Cantera trails Murphy, Obama and Scott still in 'job approval hole'" »