Facts Matter: Questions distort Jackson's stance on crime

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faced a variety of questions this week during confirmation hearings. A question about sentencing appears to take her past statements out of context.

"There were 1,561 that were detained in DC Department of Corrections ... I'm going to quote you, each and every criminal defendant in the DC Department of Corrections custody should be released because of the COVID-19 pandemic," Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said during Wednesday's hearing.

But that was a distortion of Jackson's opinion, according to The Associated Press.

At the beginning of the pandemic, 40 detainees in Washington tested positive for COVID-19. In April 2020, while serving as a U.S. District Court judge, Jackson wrote the "increased risk of harm" in correctional facilities could "reasonably suggests that each and every criminal defendant who is currently in D.C. (Department of Corrections) custody - and who thus cannot take independent measures to control their own hygiene and distance themselves from others - should be released."

However, she went on to say the courts should rule on a case-by-case basis within "the dictates of the law."

She was actually just ruling on one case, not the case of 1,561 inmates. Jackson ultimately determined the defendant should not be released to home detention because he was young, healthy and, because of violent crimes he committed, a danger to society.

On Wednesday, Jackson said, in her ruling she wanted to note the circumstances of the pandemic before making her decision, "in which I said, we're not releasing everybody. We're not opening jails."

Congress didn't get pay raise

President Joe Biden recently signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill to fund this year's domestic programs. But some social media users apparently didn't understand the plan.

The headline "Congress Just Gave Itself A 21% Raise As Americans Can't Afford Gas," was shared and liked more than 1,400 times.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, "What the hell has Congress done to deserve a 21% raise?"

But these claims are wrong, according to USA Today. There is nothing in the bill about raising the salaries of members of Congress.

There is however a 21% increase for Congress members' Representational Allowance. The allowance is meant for "official and representational duties," including travel, rent, printing and supplies. The fund is not to be used for social events or political and personal expenses.

Since 2009, the annual Congressional salary has been $174,000. Annual pay for the speaker of the House is $223,500 and the majority and minority leaders earn $193,400.

Video not from Chinese plane crash

A video making the rounds on social media is purportedly from the crash of a China Eastern Airlines jet early last week, with 132 people on board. No survivors have been found.

"As seen on close up footage of the crash, vertical stabilizer (tail) of aircraft had been detached," reads a Facebook post that was shared more than 1,900 times.

Another post claims the clip is "surveillance video of a mining area spread on the internet showed that the plane plunged vertically to the ground without any lift."

But this video is mislabeled, according to Reuters. The footage predates the March 21 crash.

The clip is actually an animation of the crash of SilkAir flight MI185 in 1997. The video was created for the National Geographic series "Air Crash Investigation." It was used in Episode 4 of Season 12, titled "Mayday 12: Pushed To The Limit," which aired Aug. 24, 2012.

No gas boycott in 1997

As gas prices have continued to rise, some social media users claim they have an idea to lower the cost.

"In April 1997, there was a 'gas out' conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight," a post claimed. "Don't pump gas on April 15, 2022!"

But there is no evidence there was a boycott or a 30-cent drop in gas prices in 1997, according to PolitiFact. The "gas out" hoax has been online for years.

Gas prices in April 1997 fluctuated only slightly ranging from $1.195 to $1.203 per gallon.

Boycotting gas for one day could cause prices to decline slightly, AAA spokesperson Devin Gladden told PolitiFact.

"However, a one-day event is likely to have a limited impact since longer-term trends could still cause prices to continue moving along that set direction," he said.

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

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