Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Newsroom Factroom - The 112th Congress

by Jonathan Bredemeyer

This was an election episode, so lots of things to check.  The winners and losers are accurate [almost], so the focus will be on less obvious more important details...rules:

Facts are chosen because they were/are critical to Sorkin's storyline.  These are determined to be accurate, potentially accurate, or inaccurate.  This is based on internet research from primary sources (and even Wikipedia when they do it best).  Luckily, with the scene set in modern day, these things are available via the web.

The fun:
  • Lance Orton, a t-shirt vendor, was alerted to the bomb by a Muslim named Aliou Niasse and then called the cops.
  • Bob Bennett loses his primary race to Mike Lee in the Republican primary in Utah.
    • Inaccurate
      • Actually, this one's hilariously wrong, so wrong that Senator Lee himself called HBO's co-president to get it corrected.  Yes, Lee won, but didn't beat Bennett in a primary.
      • The line about the 14th amendment had to get into the show, and early enough to be included in Will's motivation to go after the Tea Party, so a bit of creative license is used to move up this topic.  Lee is upset about the political attack, not the incorrect fact.
  • "I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking towards those 2nd Amendment remedies." -Sharron Angle for U.S. Senate, Nevada.
  • 18,000 World War I troops were side-lined by VD during the war... everyday.
    • Probably Accurate, some misrepresentation
      • The number seems accurate according to the site below. No, the number is not due to AIDS/HIV like the show implies, but gonorrhea and syphilis.
      • http://med-dept.com/vd.php seems to be the show's source.
      • 18,000 men contracting V.D. daily is outrageous, unless you consider how many of them entered the war with a disease. There was a 'competition' of sorts between the states to keep down their numbers of infected men entering the army. The numbers were published by the federal government for every one million draftees who reported to camp.  The numbers for the first two sets show approximately 84,000 V.D. carriers.
      • Since the United State mobilized 4.3 million men during the war, it follows that these, plus the newly infected, could number up to the tens of thousands being treated at a time on some days.
  • Bryce Delaney, who has a rating of 97% over 10 terms in Congress, lost to a dentist in the Tea Party. 
    • Fabricated
      • Bits of fact dribble in, but it's hard to gather evidence for this one.  The dentist referred to is most likely Paul Gosar who was a Tea Party candidate and did pull off an astonishing win in Arizona which dentists are happy about, but not against a massive incumbent.
      • This is further substantiated by the fact that, of all the members of congress who cosponsored  H.R.2559, there's only one republican: Thomas Rooney of Florida.  He's still serving in Congress today.  
      • PS: This bill wasn't introduced until July 2011... can't imagine it played a major role in the Republican primaries of 2010...
  • Koch Brothers facts.
  • Scott Walker put $75 million of his own money into his campaign, making it the most expensive gubernatorial election in Florida to date.
From the deseretnews.com article: "Phillips described the conversation with HBO as "cordial" and said Lee was told the show has fact checkers but this apparently slipped passed them."  It's tough to catch all this stuff.  HBO fact checkers: email us if you want help.  Everyone else, we'll duke it out in the comments.
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