Tags: Ebola Outbreak | exaggerations | virus | lie | year

2014's 'Lie of the Year': Exaggerations About Ebola

By    |   Monday, 15 Dec 2014 07:42 PM

A political fact-checking group has declared exaggerations about Ebola to be its "Lie of the Year."

PolitiFact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, last year gave its annual "award" to President Barack Obama for his "empty rhetoric" about Obamacare that people could keep their health insurance if they liked their plans.

The fact-checkers this year rated 16 separate claims about Ebola, finding them "mostly false," "false," or what they term "pants on fire."

Ten of the claims were made in October in the wake of the death of Liberian native Thomas Duncan, who had traveled to Texas to visit relatives and quickly became ill, though he was not correctly diagnosed immediately.

"[F]ear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits," Angie Drobnic Holan and Aaron Sharockman wrote in their essay announcing the winner.

"They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy."

"The claims – all wrong – distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014," they wrote.

The editors cited claims by columnist and Fox News commentator George Will and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul among the falsehoods.

"When combined, the claims edged the nation toward panic," the fact-checkers wrote, adding, however, that "the panicked warnings that flared up in October all but disappeared a month later."

The fact-checkers wrote that in November, Ebola mentions on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC dropped 82 percent; mentions on the three cable networks dipped another 35 percent in the first week of December.

"Last week, an American nurse working in Sierra Leone was admitted to the NIH Clinical Center in Maryland after being exposed to the virus," they wrote. "The story barely registered on cable news."

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A political fact-checking group has declared exaggerations about Ebola to be its "Lie of the Year."
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Monday, 15 Dec 2014 07:42 PM
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