Fact-checking 5 new claims in final stretch of 2020 election

Voting. (Element5 Digital from Pexels.)

With less than a week before Election Day, attacks from both sides are ramping up. We’re separating fact from fiction.

This first appeared in the Trust Index Newsletter. Sign up for it here.

Election Day is Nov. 3 -- and the two candidates for president -- Donald Trump and Joe Biden -- are both traveling across the country to make a closing argument for votes. We’re fact-checking some of the recent claims made by candidates and ads. Let’s jump in.

Trump ad: Biden will raise your taxes

A new ad appears to show Joe Biden saying, “If you elect me, your taxes are going to be raised, not cut," citing comments from remarks made at an event in South Carolina in February.

The ad deceptively edits remarks from Biden at several different events into this audio clip. Biden actually never said this to voters. That claim is FALSE.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

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Biden’s tax plan, however, DOES call for a tax increase -- but only for Americans making $400,000 or more per year. An independent analysis has said Biden’s tax plan could mean slightly lower after-tax incomes for some lower earners because of the proposed increase in the top corporate tax rate, but said it would be minimal.

So we’ll give the claim on raising taxes a “BE CAREFUL,” because technically, some will see higher taxes, but not as portrayed in the Trump ad. ⚠️

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

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Trump misquote on immigrant family separations

Following the final debate, a post circulating on social media claimed President Trump said, “GOOD” about the kids being separated from the parents at the southern border.

He actually said “go ahead” to the moderator, who was trying to move on to the next topic. This post is FALSE.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

Distorted Joe Biden video from Trump campaign

A video posted by the Trump campaign claims to show Biden saying “Why am I doing this? What is my real aim?” during a speech. Biden did say these words, but they are taken completely out of context.

During a speech in Warm Spring, Georgia on Oct. 27, Biden quoted something he said Pope Francis said -- he was not talking about himself or his campaign.

Biden said: “In a recent encyclical, Pope Francis warns us against this phony populism that appeals to ‘the basest and most selfish instincts.' He said, 'Politics is something more noble than posturing, marketing, and media spin. These sow nothing but division, conflict, and a bleak cynicism.’ He said, for those who seek to lead, we do well to ask ourselves, ‘why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?’ Pope Francis asked questions that anyone who seeks to lead this great nation should be able to answer. And my answer is this: I run to unite this nation and to heal this nation. I’ve said that from the beginning. It is badly necessary.”

The Trump campaign video distorts Biden’s words here -- we’re rating the claim FALSE. 🚫

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

Trump claims on mail-in voting

We’ve already fact-checked plenty of claims on mail-in voting, but there are some new ones popping up. On Monday, Trump tweeted: “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.”

On Tuesday, he said: “It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November third, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws.”

First, there is still no evidence of a mass issue with mail-in ballots or mail-in voting systems. There have been sporadic reports of voters receiving mail ballots that were incorrectly formatted and other localized hitches in the record early turnout, but the large-scale disenfranchisement that election experts worried might happen has not materialized. Trump has conspiratorially inflated local incidents, contending, for example, that mail-in ballots filled out for him are being dumped in rivers or creeks. THIS IS FALSE. 🚫

Three trays of mail were found by the side of a road and in a ditch — not a river or creek — in Greenville, Wisconsin, in mid-September. The sheriff initially said “several absentee ballots” were in the mix. The state’s elections officer later said no Wisconsin ballots were in the lost mail after all. No one said ballots marked for Trump were thrown out in the incident. 🚫

🚫 Secondly, there are no laws requiring quick reporting of election results. Delayed counting is sometimes unavoidable -- and it happens in normal election years. It’s also worth noting -- campaigns don’t declare winners in elections. Media outlets declare winners -- like the Associated Press -- and states certify results.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

Separating fact from fiction in Michigan Senate race

Incumbent Sen. Gary Peters and his challenger, John James, sat down for extended conversations with Devin Scillian on Flashpoint last Sunday morning.

They talked about the issues and the claims made in political advertisements. Local 4′s Grant Hermes ran claims through the Trust Index. Here’s what we found.

Bonus: Hunter Biden story

We’ve seen a few submissions from folks asking us to fact-check or report on the alleged Hunter Biden laptop story. So far, there has not been any evidence found by any media outlet to lend any credibility to it. Every major news outlet (including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal) has passed, because the information cannot be verified. If you’d like more background, Poynter has a great look at how the alleged story started and how it became mainstream.

📱 Be your own fact-checker

Most people don’t want to share inaccurate information, but sometimes it happens. How can you play defense? Here are some tips:

  • Check your sources: Where are you reading it? Who is reporting it? Are they credible? Watch out for “pink slime” local news sites.
  • Social media origins: If you see something floating around social media, like a meme or a story, try to find the original source and check it yourself.
  • Go beyond the headline: Some headlines are purposely misleading and don’t tell a complete story.
  • Share the right information: Be a sharer of the correct news and information! Send accurate information to your friends and family, post it on your social feeds, forward this newsletter. It’s nice to be right. (And be nice about it, nobody wants to be called out on being wrong)

✅ What would you like us to fact-check?

The Trust Index team fact checks questionable information circulating on social media and in our communities. Use the form here to share claims you’d like checked out.

Find more Trust Index stories right here on ClickOnDetroit.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.