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FactCheck.org Responds to Political Rumors

Timothy Kincaid

September 10th, 2008

Here at Box Turtle Bulletin, one of our principal efforts is to debunk and clarify inaccurate claims, statistics, and rumors that are utilized in the efforts to discredit, minimize, dehumanize or otherwise harm gay people and their lives. While it would be nice if we had the luxury (i.e. time, staff, and finances) to expand our quest for accuracy to areas outside of our specialty, we do not.

Others, however, do fill in some of the gaps. Snopes.com addresses urban legends and FactCheck.org seeks to provide a source to verify political claims.

Recently, the internet has been ablaze with claims, rumors, and conjecture about the history and political positions of various political candidates. Sadly, some gay sites have been among those most eager to make declarations that have not been well verified. (It is my sincere hope that at BTB we have avoided that mistake).

We believe that candidates and politicians should be held responsible for the things that they have said and done. But not for the things which are based solely on myth and speculation. And if we seek to be credible and honorable, we are obliged to know the difference.

FactCheck.org, a non-partisan organization, provides clarification about the internet rumors and other political claims and commercials awashing us with (often inaccurate) information. I encourage our readers to be informed in their discussions both here and at other sites and check out the information they provide.

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Jim Burroway
September 10th, 2008 | LINK

Of the five bullet points analyzed on FactCheck.org about Sarah Palin, I’m happy to note that we took a pass on all of them! :-)

G-A-Y
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy: I know we’ve talked about it on G-A-Y. But I wanted to reassert my belief that the FactCheck point about the books is very oversimplified. It really only acknowledge the banned books list (which everyone knows is bunk), and doesn’t at all acknowledge some of the other claims made by folks associated with Wasilla (like the former Frontiersman reporter and the author of ‘Pastor I’m Gay’, Howard Bess).

I, like you BTB boys, hate misrepresentations. I want the truth. But I think there is an equal danger in giving Palin a total pass on this point. In my estimation, there are still questions to be answered.

Timothy Kincaid
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Let’s not give Palin a pass.

The latest revision to the FactCheck article was on September 9. It does not include subsequent information including a possible newer list of “discussed books” based on the newspaper reporter’s recollection of a later conversation with the librarian.

The St. Petersburg Times PolitiFact reports:

Stuart told PolitiFact that in a conversation with Emmons after his article ran, she listed three titles. He said he could recall only two, and initially said they were I Told My Parents I’m Gay and I Asked My Sister. We looked for these titles; they don’t appear to exist.

“Mary Ellen told me that Palin asked her directly to remove these books from the shelves,” Stuart said. “She refused.”

Asked later if the first book could have been Pastor, I am Gay, a controversial book written by a pastor who lives just outside Wasilla, Stuart said that was it.

They conclude

As for Kilkenny’s claim, there is no proof that Palin tried to fire the librarian because she refused to consider removing books. In fact, Palin asked for the resignation of a handful of department heads to test their loyalty, according to reports at the time. The claim that Palin had specific books she wanted removed is also unsupported. Kilkenny herself said she does not recall that any titles were named by Palin at the time.

Yes, a reporter provides a secondhand account 12 years later in which he says the librarian named books Palin wanted removed. But Stuart’s recollection seems hazy (he didn’t get the right title at first). The librarian isn’t talking. There are no public records or meeting minutes to substantiate the claim. And no one else corroborates that Palin ever listed any titles. So we find no basis to find that part of the story true.

But Palin did ask the librarian if she would consider removing books. Maybe it was posed as a rhetorical question as Palin says. But she asked. So we rule the statement Half True.

Other than the addition of Stuart’s recollections, the facts do not appear to be materially different from FactCheck’s. However, it would be useful for FactCheck to update their article to include this latest assertion.

Priya Lynn
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

The claim is that Palin tried to remove the book “Pastor, I am gay”. The suggestion that that claim is unsupported is by no means an assurance that the claim is “mistaken” as Timothy suggested in the other thread.

Timothy Kincaid
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Priya,

I did not suggest that the claim is mistaken. I stated very clearly that you were mistaken in your assertions about what has been reported.

Kindly avoid misrepresenting me.

Priya Lynn
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

I provided a link Timothy, there was no mistake on my part.

Timothy Kincaid
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Priya,

You said:

The libary director at the time Palin was mayor of Wasilla says that Palin tried to ban the pro-gay book “Pastor, I am gay”

This does not agree with the facts as provided by PolitiFact.

Priya Lynn
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Politifact didn’t provide any facts to contradict that, merely their opinion that the claim is unsupported. Calling a claim unsupported is not the same as proving it false or “mistaken”. Again, here is the claim – ““Mary Ellen told me that Palin asked her directly to remove these books from the shelves,” Stuart said. “She refused.”

Asked later if the first book could have been Pastor, I am Gay, a controversial book written by a pastor who lives just outside Wasilla, Stuart said that was it.”

Priya Lynn
September 11th, 2008 | LINK

Here is what you said Timothy:

You are mistaken. The library director is not now saying that Palin tried to ban a pro-gay book.

A former reporter referenced a conversation from 12 years ago in which he recalled being told that three books were discussed by Palin and the librarian. One of them may have been “Pastor, I’m Gay”, though he got the name of the book wrong.

You did not state “very clearly that you were mistaken in your assertions about what has been reported.”

You asserted without condition that I was mistaken. You then made the unsupported assertion that the libarian is not now saying that Palin asked her to ban a book – you have no way of knowing if that is the case or not, thus you have no proof that I am “mistaken”. You also mischarcterized the reporters conversation. He didn’t merely recall the libararian saying she “discussed” the books with Palin, he recalled her saying Palin asked to ban the books.

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