Facts Matter: Harris's book not part of welcoming package for migrants

  • Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris

 
 
Updated 5/9/2021 4:57 PM

A recent story falsely claimed a children's book written by Vice President Kamala Harris was included in a packet given to unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The New York Post made the claim on April 23 in a story saying children being taken to a new shelter in Long Beach, California, would be given welcome kits that would include Harris's 2019 book, "Superheroes are Everywhere."

 

Fox News picked it up the next day, attributing the information to a photo of a single copy of the book, according to The Washington Post. The story was shared on Twitter by Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who said, "they're forcing taxpayers to buy Kamala Harris's book to give to those illegal immigrants?"

The photo showed a copy of Harris' book propped up next to a backpack at the shelter set up at a convention center. Taken by a photographer for the Southern California News Group, the photo was referenced by Fox News and on the front page of the New York Post, both of which are controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

But that photo shows one copy of Harris' book that had been donated to the shelter during a book-and-toy drive organized in Long Beach, The Washington Post said. It was not a book given to each child.

"The book you reference is one of hundreds of books that have already been donated. The book was not purchased by (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) or the city," Long Beach spokesman Kevin Lee told The Washington Post.

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Harris spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told the Post that Harris' office "was not aware that her children's book was donated."

The New York Post on April 27 changed the story on its website and added an editor's note acknowledging that "only one known copy of the book was given to a child." The reporter resigned and said she had been "ordered" to write the story.

Post is fact-checking Biden

The Washington Post, in a fact-checking database maintained during Donald Trump's 4-year term, charted 30,573 false and misleading claims made by the president.

Some recent social media posts said the newspaper won't be fact checking the current president, including one that was shared more than 700 times.

The Post will continue to publish fact checks of statements made by Biden, according to USA Today. But it will not maintain a database.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Here's the Biden database -- which we do not plan to extend beyond 100 days. I have learned my lesson," the Post's Fact Checker editor and chief writer Glenn Kessler wrote on Twitter on April 26.

Shani George, vice president of communications for The Washington Post, told USA Today, "We are continuing our practice of rigorous, routine fact-checking, which has already identified dozens of false and misleading statements by Biden, and will continue to hold the president accountable for his words."

Kessler said his team counted 67 false or misleading claims from Biden in with first 100 days compared to 511 false or misleading claims from former President Donald Trump in his first 100 days, according to The Associated Press.

He said his team counted 8,859 claims by Trump in the last 100 days of his presidency, an amount that was not manageable for his team to maintain in database format.

"Trump at 500 claims/100 days was manageable; 8,000+ was not," Kessler said on Twitter.

Claims of audit results false

Arizona Republican senators recently ordered a recount of 2020 presidential election votes cast in the state's Maricopa County and social media posts are falsely claiming to have results.

"A QUARTER OF A MILLION ILLEGAL VOTES FOUND IN ARIZONA AUDIT ... SO FAR!" read a post that was shared 1,500 times.

Results of the audit, which began April 23, have not been released, <URL destination="https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-058708357435">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>When the AP asked former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, acting as the Senate's liaison to the recount, if 250,000 illegal votes were found, he replied, "No."

The audit cannot overturn the election, the AP said, and previously multiple lawsuits and audits found no widespread irregularities with the Arizona results.

Fake board had no power

Recent social media posts falsely claimed a group of parents ousted an entire school board.

"Parents in Vail, Arizona, just took over the school board -- all according to the rules. Voted in a whole new board, and immediately removed the mask mandate. Democracy in action! Just amazing!," read a Twitter post that was shared on Facebook.

That's not what happened, according to PolitiFact.com.

More than 100 parents showed up at the April 27 board of education meeting in Vail to protest a rule requiring students to wear face masks. But board members decided to not hold the meeting.

The parents then decided to hold an unofficial election in the hallway and nominated five of the parents as their governing body which voted to remove the mask mandate.

The process didn't follow laws dictating how a school board is elected and it didn't change anything.

School board member Chris King called it a "stunt" and said it was "essentially the same as electing who's going to be the banker in a game of Monopoly. That's the same authority," he told PolitiFact.

• 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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