Facts Matter: President's posts on wildfires misleading

 
 
Updated 11/17/2018 8:45 PM
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  • Firefighter Jose Corona sprays water as flames from the Camp Fire consume a home in Magalia, California.

    Firefighter Jose Corona sprays water as flames from the Camp Fire consume a home in Magalia, California. Associated Press/Nov. 9

  • Residences leveled by the Camp Fire line a cul-de-sac in Paradise, California.

    Residences leveled by the Camp Fire line a cul-de-sac in Paradise, California. Associated Press/Nov. 15

As wildfires burn in California, President Donald Trump posted false information about the disaster, <URL destination="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/us/politics/fact-check-trump-california-fire-tweet.html">according to The New York Times.

</URL>"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump said on Twitter.

The current wildfires aren't forest fires and are not the responsibility of forest management, the Times said.

"These fires aren't even in forests," Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the Times.

The Camp and Woolsey fires began where communities are close to undeveloped areas, the Times said. Fires in these locations are more deadly and costly because of the proximity to homes and towns.

Trump also said on Twitter, "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!"

This is misleading, the Times said.

Federal agencies own and manage 57 percent of the state's 33 million acres of forest, according to the Times. Families, Native American tribes and timber companies own 40 percent of the land and 3 percent is managed by state and local agencies.

Trump did not specify which federal aid would be cut, the Times said. California itself allocated $256 million this year toward lowering wildfire risk.

Florida election official a Democrat

The midterm election continued for more than a week in Florida as some of the state's races remained undecided, overseen by Broward County supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes.

Though there was no evidence of voter fraud or criminal activity, partisan arguments during the recount included an inaccurate portrayal of Snipes's political affiliation, <URL destination="https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2018/nov/14/andrea-mitchell/broward-county-elections-supervisor-brenda-snipes-/">according to PolitiFact.com.

</URL>"We should also point out that Brenda Snipes in Broward County is a Republican appointed by former governor, then-Gov. Jeb Bush," NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell said earlier this month.

But Snipes is a Democrat, PolitiFact said. Her biography on the Broward County supervisor of elections website lists her as a Democrat.

Mitchell wasn't the only one confused. PolitiFact points to an interview with CNN in which Snipes said a woman at the election office told her, "I know that you're a Republican."

"I have been a Democrat all my life," Snipes said.

Obama removed heckler, not reporter

A false post making the rounds on social media claims former President Barack Obama had a reporter removed from a news conference for asking a question, according to The Associated Press.

After White House press credentials were suspended for CNN reporter Jim Acosta following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump during a post-midterm elections news conference last week, a video surfaced purportedly showing Obama kicking a reporter out of a press briefing, AP said.

During a gay pride reception at the White House in June 2015, Obama responded to a heckler, according to AP.

"Shame on you, you shouldn't be doing this," Obama told the heckler. Obama told the protester he had the option of staying quiet or being removed.

The protester was removed, AP said.

Customers wielding guns were cops

A video showing a group of men in a store shooting a robbery suspect, claiming the potential thief was "shot by every customer inside," has been frequently shared on social media by pro-gun groups, according to Snopes.com.

However, "every customer" turned out to be plainclothes police officers, Snopes said.

The video comes from security footage at a pharmacy in Brazil during a May 2017 incident, according to Snopes. The 17-year-old suspect, wearing a helmet, entered the store and pointed a gun at the employee behind the counter. Police officers in the store responded and the teenager was shot. He was dead when emergency responders arrived on the scene.

It was unclear how many officers fired their weapon, Snopes said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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