Facts Matter: Report that Bernie Sanders is ending his campaign is false

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Dec. 6 during the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Forum in Grinnell, Iowa.

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Dec. 6 during the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Forum in Grinnell, Iowa. Associated Press

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event Friday in Manchester, N.H. Despite social media reports, the Vermont senator has not dropped out.

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event Friday in Manchester, N.H. Despite social media reports, the Vermont senator has not dropped out. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/14/2019 6:59 PM

After Sen. Kamala Harris of California ended her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, posts falsely claiming Bernie Sanders was also ending his 2020 bid began showing up on social media.

Actually, Sanders is expanding his campaign, according to The Associated Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The posts on Facebook and Twitter falsely said Sanders was closing campaign offices in South Carolina, where he lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary. But a Sanders spokesman told the AP the Vermont senator is expanding on the nine offices in that state, having just opened a site in Aiken, South Carolina, two weeks ago.

A Twitter account supporting Harris had received thousands of likes on the report about Sanders dropping out, the AP said.

Casten's town halls not 'invite only'

Former state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton issued a news release earlier this month claiming U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove is excluding members of the public from his town hall meetings.

"His numerous (invitation-only) town halls do not make up for his failure to take meaningful action to save jobs and protect independent businesses in his own district," said the release from Ives, who is running in the March 17 Republican primary for the chance to take on Democrat Casten in November.

A link on Ives' release went to another of her news releases dated Oct. 4 and titled, "Lord Casten's Theatrical Town Halls -- Invite Only."

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A link on that release went to an Eventbrite page in which anyone could get a ticket to the Casten town hall, according to PolitiFact.com. Casten spokeswoman Chloe Hunt told PolitiFact the Eventbrite page is used to track attendance.

"It's all first come, first served; it's all posted online. There's no additional vetting. It's literally just if you sign up," she said. Hunt said people who don't register on the Eventbrite page, which asks for a name and email address, can attend the town hall if there is enough space.

Casten has held 20 town halls this year that are livestreamed on Facebook, PolitiFact said.

PolitiFact reached out to Ives' campaign for comment but did not receive a response.

Fake post claims photo is fake

A recent Facebook post claiming Fox News used a fake photo is actually fake itself.

The post shows a group of soldiers greeting President Donald Trump during his Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan. In the background is a sign that appears to be an NBCUniversal International Studios nameplate, according to FactCheck.org. The meme claims Fox News "posts a fake picture to show soldiers excited to see Trump in Afghanistan ... forgets to take out the Universal Studio sign in the background."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But the image was manipulated to add the sign to the background, FactCheck said.

The photo from Getty Images, taken by photographer Olivier Douliery, was aired in several news reports and didn't have the Universal Studio sign in the background, FactCheck said.

Other photos taken from the same angle by Associated Press photographers show a blank wall behind the soldiers, the AP said.

Fact checking the gun fact check

As part of news coverage on Oct. 28 to test some of President Donald Trump's assertions while speaking to the Illinois Association of Police Chiefs in Chicago, a Daily Herald Fact Check disputed Trump's claim that "Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country."

"Illinois ranks eighth in the U.S. for strongest gun laws, according to the Giffords Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence," the Fact Check said. "The state requires gun owners to obtain licenses and face background checks, and imposes waiting periods on purchases, The Associated Press reports. But unlike New York and California, Illinois does not ban assault weapons or large-capacity magazines."

A reader replied suggesting we fact check our fact check.

He pointed out that using Illinois laws to respond to a claim about Chicago's laws is "not an apples-to-apples comparison." Chicago and Cook County do, in fact, have additional laws and taxes of their own, even though the state maintains its laws take precedence over local ones.

More pointedly, the reader said the implication that Chicago does not ban assault weapons or large-capacity magazines is wrong because the city has passed a law restricting assault weapons.

The reference to the state law clearly was an oversimplification. How wrong was it? Here, we get into a stickier wicket. State law attempts to preempt local assault weapons laws that were passed after July 20, 2013, but in Chicago's case, as in the cases of other suburbs, the matter is tied up in the courts. A report by NPR notes that a federal appeals court earlier this year upheld Chicago's assault weapons ban. But circuit courts have upheld the state's preemption in a case against Deerfield, which could have implications for Chicago's laws. Add into the confusion the fact that Cook County also has passed an assault weapons ban as well as other gun restrictions, although in those cases, municipal laws take precedence over the county laws.

What are the facts? It's hard to say whether Trump is right that Chicago has the toughest guns laws, but it's safe to say they're tough and that by comparing apples and oranges, the Fact Check gave the wrong impression.

• 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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