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Fact-checking the March 9 news shows

The pundits and politicians had more questions than answers Sunday morning about Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on Saturday with 239 people on board.

Two passengers on the flight were traveling from Malaysia to Beijing with stolen passports, but aviation experts wondered if that indicated illegal immigration rather than a terror attack. Evidence was frustratingly slim, and authorities and journalists warned people not to draw conclusions too soon.

Talk then turned to the Conservative Political Action Conference, called CPAC, and continuing turmoil in Ukraine.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., won the conference's presidential straw poll. Paul appeared on Fox News Sunday to talk about his libertarian philosophy and whether it could help the Republican Party win the White House again.

Paul said young people appreciated his focus on reining in government power to collect cellphone records, which he warned could easily lead to widespread government surveillance.

"The president won the youth vote 3 to 1, but his numbers have dropped 20, 30 percent among the youth," Paul said. "Really, the public at large is less trusting of this president, but the youth in particular have lost faith in this president. And so I think there's a real opportunity for Republicans who do believe in the Fourth Amendment to grow our party by attracting young people and bring that energy into our party."

We wondered if Paul was correct about the numbers on youth support for President Barack Obama.

We found that Obama did win the youth vote in both 2008 and 2012, but not by as high a ratio as Paul said. It was a 2 to 1 ratio in 2008 and a smaller 3 to 2 ratio in 2012. Paul was largely correct that Obama has lost significant support recently, with different polls showing somewhat different results. Overall, we rated his statement Mostly True.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on CBS' Face the Nation to criticize Obama's foreign policy, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin saw Obama as weak.

"We have created an image around the world, not just to the Russians, of weakness, and (being) indecisive, and the Syrian situation is a classic," Cheney said. "We got all ready to do something. A lot of the allies sign on, and at the last minute, Obama backed off."

Actually, very few allies were willing to "sign on" to military action against Syria. A review of allied countries showed that only France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia expressed clear support, with France backing away as time went on. Meanwhile, other allies refused to agree to military action, most notably Britain and Germany. We rated Cheney's statement Mostly False.

Staff writers Jon Greenberg and Julie Kliegman contributed to this report. Angie Drobnic Holan is the editor of PolitiFact.com.

The statement

"The president won the youth vote 3 to 1, but his numbers have dropped 20, 30 percent among the youth."

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Fox News Sunday

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly True

Paul is right that President Barack Obama overwhelmingly won the youth vote, but it wasn't quite a 3 to 1 ratio. Paul is correct that Obama's support among the young has dropped substantially in recent months. We rated his statement Mostly True.

The statement

On Syria, "a lot of the allies signed on. At the last minute, Obama backed off."

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on CBS' Face the Nation

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Mostly False

There's not much dispute that Obama ended up not pursuing military action, but Cheney is wrong to say "a lot" of allies signed on. Actually, very few were willing to support strikes against Syria.

Fact-checking the March 9 news shows 03/09/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 9, 2014 8:22pm]
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