Bogus Claims Follow Donation of Kamala Harris’ Children’s Book

Quick Take

A single copy of Vice President Kamala Harris’ children’s book was one of many titles donated to a shelter for immigrant children in Long Beach, California. But a debunked New York Post article – which led to the reporter’s resignation — incorrectly claimed every child was given a copy of her book, starting a deluge of false claims in social media posts.

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In 2019, prior to becoming vice president, Kamala Harris published a 40-page children’s picture book titled, “Superheroes Are Everywhere,” which made it to the New York Times best-seller list.

A copy of the book was one of many titles donated during a toy and book drive for migrant children arriving at a shelter operated by the Department of Health and Human Services in Long Beach, California.

During the drive, a story published by the New York Post on April 23 falsely claimed all the children at the shelter were given a copy of Harris’ book in “welcome kits.”

The New York Post story was debunked within days, leading to an updated version in the paper — and the resignation of the reporter who wrote the original story, tweeting that she was “ordered to write” the article.

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Video From Biden’s Address to Congress Misleadingly Edited

Quick Take

In his April 28 address to Congress, President Joe Biden said, “No one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones — a parent, or spouse, or child.” Partisan social media accounts misleadingly edited his words in a viral video to suggest he said, “No one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck.”

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In his first address to Congress on April 28, President Joe Biden spent about five minutes laying out a new part of his economic recovery plan, which focuses on education, child care and paid leave.

That proposal, called the American Families Plan, follows two related proposals — the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 stimulus package that Biden signed into law on March 11, and the American Jobs Plan, which focuses largely on infrastructure and is awaiting action by Congress.

In his speech, Biden said that the new proposal would allow for up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. He added, “No one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck or taking care of themselves and their loved ones — a parent, or spouse, or child.”

But a video clip has been circulating on social media that includes only the first part of the president’s statement, making it sound like he said, “No one should have to choose between a job and a paycheck.”

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MLB All-Star Lineup: Colorado vs. Georgia

After pulling its All-Star game out of Georgia because of the state’s new voting law, Major League Baseball picked Colorado for its summer classic — setting off an error-filled debate over which state has more restrictive voting laws.

Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia were among those booting the ball when it came to comparing the two states.

Coors Field on April 4 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images.

Kemp signed the Georgia legislation into law on March 25. Since then, the law has been criticized by Democrats and voting rights advocates. In an April 2 statement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced he would move the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta, saying the sport “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans.”

On April 6, MLB said Coors Field in Denver would be the site of the All-Star game. Here we look at the requirements for voting in each state.

Voter ID

In a tweet, Scott noted that both states have voter ID laws. That’s true, but Colorado’s law is far less restrictive for both in-person and mail-in voting.

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FactChecking Claims About the Georgia Voting Law

A new voting law in Georgia has sparked a rebuke from Major League Baseball and political spin from both parties. We’ll fact-check claims from President Joe Biden and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Biden wrongly claimed the new Georgia law would “close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off.”Kemp misleadingly suggested the new law wouldn’t reduce the number of drop boxes available for absentee voters to drop off their ballots.Kemp inaccurately claimed that Biden is “factually wrong” about “the water issue” — a provision of the new law that bans “any person” from providing food or drink to people waiting in line to vote.

Kemp signed the Georgia legislation into law on March 25. It has garnered criticism from Democrats that the law limits access to voting, while Kemp has claimed the law “expands access to the polls and ensures the integrity of the ballot box.”

On April 2, Major League Baseball announced it wouldn’t hold the All-Star Game in Atlanta as scheduled because of its objection to the law. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

The law comes months after Democrats scored major political victories, with Biden winning the state in the presidential race and both Democratic Senate candidates securing their runoff elections to give the party control of both houses of Congress.

Voters wait in line on Dec. 14 in Atlanta on the first day of early voting for the Senate runoff election. Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images.

Among the major changes, the law clearly reduces the time for absentee voting: The state used to allow voters to request an absentee ballot up to 180 days before an election; the new law cuts that to 78 days and no later than 11 days before an election. It prohibits officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters unless the voter specifically requested one, and it adds a requirement for absentee voters to include their driver’s license number or other state ID number. The law also makes it harder to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day if a voter shows up at the wrong precinct: Poll officials are directed to tell voters to travel to their correct precincts, unless it’s after 5 p.m., in which case a provisional ballot would be accepted.

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Biden, Buttigieg Exaggerate Projected Job Gains in Infrastructure Plan

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, called the American Jobs Plan, is projected to add 2.7 million jobs over 10 years, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics.

Biden and members of his administration have cited the Moody’s analysis to leave the misleading impression that the nearly $2.3 trillion plan would add 19 million jobs to the U.S. economy. But that includes 16.3 million jobs that Moody’s projects would be added even if the president’s infrastructure proposal never comes to pass.

“Independent analysis shows that if we pass this plan, the economy will create 19 million jobs — good jobs, blue-collar jobs, jobs that pay well,” Biden said in remarks at the White House on April 2.

“The American Jobs Plan is about a generational investment,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 4. “It’s going to create 19 million jobs.”

The American Jobs Plan builds on Biden’s campaign promise to invest $1.3 trillion over 10 years on American infrastructure.

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TV Ad Distorts Facts on Federal Voting Rights Bill

A TV ad from a conservative group distorts the facts about the “For the People Act,” a voting rights bill approved by the Democratic-controlled House and now in the Senate.

The ad, paid for by Restoration Action, says: “No more voter ID. Signature verification on absentee ballots virtually eliminated. And effectively allowing noncitizens to vote.” The first claim is false and the last two are misleading.

House Democrats passed H.R. 1 — known as the “For the People Act” — on March 3, and it is now being debated in the Senate.

The bill has been criticized by Republican leaders who say the bill would override state laws governing federal elections and increase the chances of fraud. “This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a March 24 hearing on the bill. 

In addition to making it easier to vote, the legislation also would make changes in federal campaign finance laws and state redistricting rules.

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Flawed Report Fuels Erroneous Claims About COVID-19 Death Toll

SciCheck Digest

Viral social media posts cite a flawed paper in falsely claiming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed death certificate procedures and violated federal law, resulting in wildly inflated COVID-19 deaths. The CDC hasn’t altered how death certificates for COVID-19 are filled out, and there is no federal law governing the process.

How lethal is COVID-19?
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FactChecking Claims About Asylum Grants and Immigration Court Attendance

While discussing ways to quickly determine if people who cross into the U.S. through Mexico are eligible for asylum, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio claimed that “only about half of them even show up for their court cases” and “only 15% of them qualify” for asylum. But government statistics aren’t that clear-cut.

A study published last year in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review found that “88% of all immigrants in immigration court with completed or pending removal cases over the past eleven years attended all of their court hearings.” The analysis of government data also revealed that 95% of nondetained individuals who filed for asylum or other forms of relief from removal attended all of their court hearings over the same time period from 2008 to 2018, the authors said.

Also, to get the 15% grant rate for asylum cases in fiscal year 2019, government officials factored in tens of thousands of people who were neither granted nor denied asylum, including the nearly 40% of people who didn’t file for asylum after a “credible fear” interview with asylum officers. 

If only the number of actual grants and denials are considered, the asylum grant rate that year would be around 32%.

In a March 21 interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Portman said that the government needed to invest in ways to immediately determine if migrants apprehended when crossing the southern border meet the requirements for asylum.

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Unfounded Claims About Colorado Gunman

Quick Take

A social media post is spreading baseless claims that the shooter accused of killing 10 people in Boulder, Colorado, came to the U.S. “Illegally from [M]exico and purchased the firearm from a guy that sells stolen guns.” Law enforcement officials say the suspect came to the U.S. from Syria as a child, and the gun used was legally purchased.

Full Story

Shortly after prosecutors charged Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa with the murder of 10 people in a shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, falsehoods about him started circulating online.

One viral post claimed that Alissa entered the U.S. “Illegally from mexico and purchased the firearm from a guy that sells stolen guns.”

Neither of those claims is supported by the publicly available information about Alissa. In fact, public information and news reports contradict those claims.

We’ll start with the claim about his gun purchase.

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Viral Posts Misuse VAERS Data to Make False Claims About COVID-19 Vaccines

SciCheck Digest

Social media posts repeatedly misuse unverified data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System to falsely claim that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous, and even lethal. But the government database is not designed to determine if vaccines cause health problems.

How do we know vaccines are safe?
How effective are the vaccines?
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FactChecking Biden’s Claim that Assault Weapons Ban Worked

President Joe Biden claims the 10-year assault weapons ban that he helped shepherd through the Senate as part of the 1994 crime bill “brought down these mass killings.” But the raw numbers, when adjusted for population and other factors, aren’t so clear on that.

There is, however, growing evidence that bans on large-capacity magazines, in particular, might reduce the number of those killed and injured in mass public shootings.

A day after the Boulder, Colorado, mass shooting, in which 10 people were killed by a gunman in a grocery store on March 22, Biden spoke in support of two House-approved bills that would expand background checks to include private sales. Biden also returned to another campaign promise on gun control: to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country, once again,” Biden said. “I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was a law for the longest time and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”

Biden is referring to his work as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he sponsored and largely shepherded the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law in 1994. That law, among other things, included an “assault weapons” ban, which prohibited the sale of certain semiautomatic firearms and large-capacity magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more. (Existing weapons on the banned list were “grandfathered,” meaning people could keep them.) A sunset provision, however, meant that the ban expired in 10 years, in 2004.

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Bogus Claims About Biden’s Treatment of Homeless Veterans

Quick Take

After the Biden administration said it would spend $86 million to temporarily house immigrants at the southern border in hotels, viral posts — including a tweet by Rep. Madison Cawthorn — falsely claimed the White House has directed “zero dollars” to homeless veterans. The American Rescue Plan includes $750 million to provide housing for veterans.

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To address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Department of Homeland Security said that the Biden administration will spend $86 million to temporarily house migrant families in hotel rooms.

The March 20 announcement led to a backlash of false claims on social media about the administration’s treatment of homeless veterans.

On March 21, Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina tweeted, “The Biden Admin just dropped $86 Million dollars to get hotel rooms for ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS yet we have zero dollars going to our homeless veterans who are at a high risk of suicide.”

Social media posts on Instagram and Facebook made similar claims. One Instagram post, which had received more than 110,000 likes, said, “The Biden administration just dished out 86 million dollars for motel rooms to house illegal immigrants. Meanwhile … $0.00 for motel rooms for our homeless vets. Disgusting!”

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Cheney’s Misleading Criticism of the COVID-19 Relief Package

After the Senate passed its version of the American Rescue Plan Act, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney claimed “the result of that package is going to be middle-class tax increases.” The legislation cuts middle-income taxes.

Cheney assumes Congress will one day pay for the law with middle-class tax hikes. But that’s a questionable assumption, and one reminiscent of the way each party reacts when the other spends money.

Congress faces a mountain of debt it one day should start paying for, and there’s little indication it has the political desire to do so, let alone with “middle-class tax increases.”

Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told us it seemed there was “no political will to do what Rep. Cheney is talking about” — raising middle-income taxes — and no real interest in Congress in paying for anything. “We have been spending money and cutting taxes now for a decade and no one has shown any interest in paying for it.”

American Rescue Plan Tax Cuts

Cheney made her claim in a March 9 Republican House press conference. She said the American Rescue Plan Act “is a real tragedy. When you look at that package, we know that the result of that package is going to be middle-class tax increases.”

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FactChecking Biden’s Prime-Time Address

In his remarks to the nation after signing the latest COVID-19 relief legislation, President Joe Biden stretched the facts, particularly when boasting of the increase in vaccinations on his watch.

Biden spoke on March 11, marking a year since the nation began widespread shutdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Vaccine Supply

Biden was technically correct but left a misleading impression when he said: “Two months ago, this country didn’t have nearly enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all or ever near all of the American public, but soon we will.”

As we’ve written before, while the Biden administration has increased vaccine orders from the companies with authorized vaccines, the Trump administration had contracts in place for plenty of vaccines for all Americans — provided other vaccines gained authorizations. And Biden’s predecessor also had options to increase orders from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, the first two vaccines to get Food and Drug Administration authorization.

In December, Pfizer and Moderna had agreed to provide 400 million doses (200 million each) by the end of July, according to Government Accountability Office report. In February, the Biden administration ordered another 200 million doses by the end of July, for a total of 600 million from the two companies for the two-dose vaccines. And the vaccine supply would come faster than originally anticipated.

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RFK Jr. Video Pushes Known Vaccine Misrepresentations

Quick Take

A video stoking fears of the COVID-19 vaccines in the Black community is being promoted online. But the film repeats misrepresentations about vaccines, generally, and exploits historical cases of unethical medical conduct to suggest without evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe.

Full Story

Several vaccine falsehoods and misrepresentations have been strung together in a video aimed at discouraging Black people from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

The hourlong video, called “Medical Racism: The New Apartheid,” is hosted by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination organization, Children’s Health Defense. It includes mostly rehashed claims about vaccine safety framed to exploit distrust of the medical establishment in Black communities.

The video, which was made available on March 11, doesn’t offer any evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful. Instead, it relies on innuendo — citing historical examples of ethical failures in medicine, misrepresenting various scientific studies, and suggesting that the medical establishment can’t be trusted.

For example, Kennedy — who is a lawyer, not a doctor — ends the video by discouraging viewers from following the advice of public health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Don’t listen to me, don’t listen to Tony Fauci, and don’t listen to your doctor,” Kennedy says before advising viewers to review the package inserts for vaccines and question whether the ingredients are safe. (See SciCheck’s articles on each vaccine: A Guide to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine,” A Guide to Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine” and “A Guide to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine.”)

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SciCheck Video: How Viral Deceptions Spread

In this video, SciCheck reviews a case study of how misinformation spreads online.

The video looks at how InfoWars, a conspiracy theory website, distorted the facts of an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that mandates face masks be worn on public transportation.

Contrary to the InfoWars report, the CDC order doesn’t require that individuals wear two masks. CDC guidance issued with the order does say that cloth masks should be made of at least two layers. But the InfoWars report was picked up — word for word, in some cases — by three other websites in two days, spreading the misinformation across the internet. 

For more information, see our article “Headlines Distort the Facts on CDC Mask Order.”

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. 

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FactChecking Barrasso’s Claims About Stimulus Check Recipients

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming defended his vote against the American Rescue Plan Act, in part, by claiming that the legislation would provide $1,400 stimulus checks to prisoners and “illegal immigrants” who shouldn’t receive them.

But, last year, when he and his fellow Republicans controlled the Senate and the White House, Barrasso voted for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March and the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December. Those bills — which included stimulus checks to individuals of up to $1,200 and $600, respectively — also didn’t prohibit payments to prisoners. And the bills included the same language denying checks to “any nonresident alien individual” that Barrasso now claims is insufficient.

Photo credit: frankieleon/Flickr

During a March 7 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Barrasso said this about checks in the current relief bill that passed in the Senate with only votes from the Democratic caucus: “[W]ith this bill, they’re going to people in prison, they’re going to people who are illegal immigrants, they’re going to people who make much more money than you would expect people to actually need relief or help at this point.”

We’ll start by addressing the misleading GOP talking point about checks to “illegal immigrants,” and later we’ll provide the full context for the claim about payments to prisoners.

Barrasso may have left the impression that stimulus checks are going out to the estimated 10.5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. That’s not the case.

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Capitol Protesters Were Armed With Variety of Weapons

Quick Take

Conservative social media posts misleadingly claim the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was not an “armed” insurrection, citing FBI testimony that no guns were seized from suspects that day. But 23 people have been charged with having deadly or dangerous weapons during the assault — including a loaded handgun found on a man arrested on Capitol grounds.

Full Story

On March 3, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a joint hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill. The assault left five people dead and scores injured, including at least 138 Capitol and Metropolitan Police Department officers.

During the hearing, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin asked Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, “How many firearms were confiscated in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds during that day?”

“To my knowledge, we have not recovered any on that day from any other arrests at the scene at this point,” Sanborn said. “But I don’t want to speak on behalf of Metro and Capitol Police.”

Social media posts latched on to the answer to misleadingly purport that the protesters were not armed.

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Mailbag: Minimum Wage Increase

A reader sent us comments on our article on President Joe Biden’s statements about increasing the federal minimum wage.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to Den här e-postadressen skyddas mot spambots. Du måste tillåta JavaScript för att se den.. Letters may be edited for length.

Federal Minimum Wage

In regards to your article [“Biden’s Minimum Wage Exaggeration,” Feb. 11], you failed to mention that every time raising the minimum wage comes up there is a doom and gloom scenario given by the opposition. We are always told there will great job loss. With the last wage raise you would have expected the economy was going to nearly collapse and the unemployed would be standing in great lines for soup kitchens. It did not happen. I do not know who the ignorant characters are that set the poverty levels but they are always way too low. You try living on 12.00 dollars an hour.

Just thought you should have included the historical ramifications each time the minimum wage has been raised as this is constantly ignored every time the subject comes up. Yet each time we have been warned on how devastating (they always give all kinds of facts and figures and graphs) this will be but it always works out to be just fine. Although prices will go up as the business owners will not want to adjust their living standard so it will not be long and $15.00 an hour will be equivalent to what $7.00 is now. I can remember when I was in awe of people making $40,000 a year. Although I am now reduced back to that point LOL.

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Manchin Wrong About How Many States Have $7.25 Minimum Wage

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrongly said “very few … if any” states have a minimum wage at the federally mandated $7.25 per hour. In fact, 21 states do.

Raising the federal minimum wage has become an issue in recent weeks as Congress debated the American Rescue Plan.

Photo credit: Getty Images

The Democratic-controlled House included a phased-in $15-an-hour minimum wage in its version of the COVID-19 relief bill. But the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian ruled that the provision could not be included in the Senate version if Democrats wanted to pass the bill using reconciliation — which requires a simple majority rather than 60 votes.

Sen. Bernie Sanders offered an amendment to the Senate bill to reinsert the $15 federal minimum wage, phased in over four years. The amendment failed in a 58-42 vote. Manchin was one of seven Democrats, plus an independent, who voted against the amendment.

Manchin has said he supports a more modest $11-an-hour federal minimum wage, which would increase each year with inflation.

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