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Aaron Sharockman, PunditFact Editor

Aaron Sharockman

Aaron Sharockman is editor of PunditFact.com, a fact-checking project launched by the Tampa Bay Times in November 2013. Previously he served as deputy government and politics editor for the Times, and a writer and editor for PolitiFact.com. Sharockman has been following Florida government and politics for the Times since 2003 and has city governments in Clearwater and St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay Rays' pursuit of a new baseball stadium. He's a graduate of Indiana University.

Phone: (727) 892-2273

Email: asharockman@tampabay.com

Twitter: @ASharock

Blog: PunditFact

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  1. PunditFact: Abortion-funding measure holds up AG confirmation vote

    Politics

    A clause about abortion funding in an otherwise noncontroversial sex trafficking bill has stopped the Senate from voting to confirm Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general.

    On Fox News Sunday, liberal Juan Williams and conservative Karl Rove debated who's to blame.

    Here's the relevant part of the back-and-forth between Williams and Rove. Rove claimed that Republicans are simply trying to extend a prohibition against using federal funding for most abortions that has been in place for nearly 40 years....

    FILE - In this April 12, 2011 file photo, Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor to President George W. Bush, leads a panel discussion, The Politics And Policy Of Growth, at The 4% Project, Driving Economic Growth conference at SMU, in Dallas. The on-air spectacle of Fox News analyst Karl Rove publicly questioning his network's call of the election for Barack Obama happened because Rove and Fox's decision desk both had pieces to a puzzle that the other wasn't aware of, a network executive said Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File) CAPH587
  2. PunditFact: Indiana governor says Obama once voted for 'very same' religious freedom bill (w/video)

    News

    At least five times Sunday, ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence a variant on a simple question about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act: "If a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana?"

    And at least five times, Pence would not answer.

    Instead, the first-term Republican governor defended Indiana's new and controversial law as providing a legal framework if government infringes on someone's freedom of religion. He also noted that the very same law has been supported by Democrats in other places, including President Barack Obama....

    Thousands of opponents of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation Saturday.
  3. PunditFact: Netanyahu changed course on two-state solution

    Politics

    Did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flip-flop on the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace deal in the Middle East to help secure re-election?

    That's at least the suggestion floating around in the days after Netanyahu's Likud Party won enough seats to retain coalition control of Israel's government.

    "On the final day of his re-election campaign, Benjamin Netanyahu said that as long as he serves as prime minister of Israel, there will not be an independent Palestinian nation," read the top line of a Washington Post news report....

    FILE - In this July 17, 2013 file photo, Liz Cheney speaks during a campaign appearance in Casper, Wyo. Published reports citing anonymous GOP insiders say Liz Cheney, the daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, plans to quit the Republican Wyoming Senate primary and abandon her effort to unseat incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi. Cheney moved her family from Virginia to Wyoming to run for the seat. Her effort to replace Enzi, a Senate veteran, angered and upset many Republicans and her campaign has faced a number of problems. (AP Photo/Matt Young, File) NY112
  4. PolitiFact: Fact-checking a defense of Hillary Clinton's private email use

    Politics

    People defending Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday over revelations that she used a private email account as secretary of state offered a novel piece of evidence to bolster their argument.

    While the State Department has asked all previous secretaries to turn over their private emails, only Clinton has complied, they claimed. "The State Department asked all secretaries of state to send their emails over, and she's the only one who's done it," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on CBS' Face the Nation....

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is under scrutiny for using a personal email account for official business while in office.
  5. PolitiFact: Fact-checking House Speaker John Boehner's numbers on President Obama's actions

    National

    House Republican leaders fanned out across the Sunday shows to defend their attempts to overturn President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration through a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

    The group came armed with the same talking point and a very specific claim.

    "The president chose to use an authority that he said 22 separate times that he didn't have the authority to do," Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Meet the Press' Chuck Todd....

    House Speaker John Boehner says President Barack Obama said 22 times that he couldn’t take executive action on immigration, and that he made “unilateral changes” to Obamacare 38 times.
  6. Perspective: Without PunditFact, pundits stand uncorrected

    Perspective

    WASHINGTON

    The staff of PunditFact flipped the script last week at the National Press Club. Instead of fact-checking pundits, we hosted a roundtable of talking heads to discuss how they operate on television, and how we affect (or don't affect) their lives.

    Pundits punditing about PunditFact.

    "I thought that was a brilliant idea when I first read about PunditFact. I thought that's great, we really need that," said Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist and Meet the Press regular. ...

    Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute moderates a PunditFact.com panel discussion at the National Press Club on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. From left to right, Tompkins, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, Jackie Kucinich, senior politics editor for the Daily Beast, and Donna Brazile, CNN/ABC contributor and longtime political strategist. National Press Club event for PunditFact.
  7. PunditFact: Checking claims about al-Qaida, measles vaccinations

    Politics

    Super Sunday brought talk about the spread of terrorists abroad and the spread of measles back home.

    PunditFact fact-checked a pair of claims.

    On Fox News Sunday, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane discussed the situation in the Middle East with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and foreign policy expert Dennis Ross. Keane made the case that the foreign policy of President Barack Obama is not working, saying that "al-Qaida has grown fourfold in five years."...

    Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in Raqqa, Syria, last summer.
  8. PunditFact: Ohio Gov. John Kasich puts words in Abraham Lincoln's mouth about tax policy

    Politics

    Republicans thinking of running for president in 2016 began their tour of the news shows Sunday.

    On CNN, former Sen. Rick Santorum touted his national security experience. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal discussed his religion on ABC. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee talked Common Core on NBC. And on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich quoted Abraham Lincoln in criticizing President Barack Obama's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund tax cuts and government programs for the middle class....

    The Rev. William John Henry Boetcker’s “10 Cannots” are often attributed to Abraham Lincoln because Boetcker published leaflets that had a real Lincoln quote on one side and his own “cannots” on the other. Boetcker was a politically conservative religious leader and public speaker.
  9. PolitiFact: For all the talk about Keystone, U.S. is world's top oil producer

    Politics

    A new year means a new Congress and, with Republicans holding majorities in both the House and Senate, a new set of priorities in Washington.

    The Sunday shows discussed the road ahead, including Congress' plan to vote on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., made the case for the pipeline, saying that it creates jobs and does not harm the environment....

    South Dakota Senator John Thune addresses the delegates during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)  RNC735
  10. PolitiFact launches Kickstarter to live fact-check the 2015 State of the Union

    National

    PolitiFact is launching a Kickstarter campaign to live fact-check and annotate the 2015 State of the Union address and GOP response.

    The Tampa Bay Times started PolitiFact in 2007 with the promise of separating fact from fiction in the spin offered by politicians. Since then, PolitiFact has published nearly 10,000 fact-checks and brought its independent accountability journalism to nearly a dozen states. Last year, the Times launched PunditFact with the help of grants to try to keep TV's talking heads honest....

  11. PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2014: Distorted claims on Ebola virus

    National

    Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19 for Dallas. Eleven days later, doctors diagnosed Duncan with Ebola.

    Eight days after that, he was dead.

    Duncan's case is just one of two Ebola-related fatalities in the United States, and since Duncan traveled to Dallas, more Americans — at least nine, and likely many more — have died from the flu.

    Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. 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....

    A barrel labeled biohazard is left on the front lawn of a healthcare worker's apartment on Oct. 12 in Dallas. The healthcare worker, who was caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for the disease in preliminary tests. [Associated Press]
  12. PunditFact: Fact-checking the Nov. 16 news shows

    Politics

    Senate Democrats' decision to hold a vote this week on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline stoked a new round of discussions about the controversial project on the Sunday news shows.

    The $8 billion project shuffling a heavy crude oil mixture from western Canada to Steele City, Neb., has long been on hold pending a review by President Barack Obama and the State Department, which must determine if it "serves the national interest" because it crosses an international border. The pipeline would connect with an existing southern leg that opened early this year, delivering more than 800,000 barrels of oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast....

    President Barack Obama is shown at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard in Cushing, Okla., in 2012. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would connect western Canada with Nebraska.
  13. Fact-checking Barack Obama on the Nov. 9 Sunday shows

    Politics

    President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on Sunday television, telling CBS' Bob Schieffer that Democrats lost last week's midterm elections because his party failed to articulate the economic progress the country has made over the past six years.

    "The message that I took from this election, and we've seen this in a number of elections, successive elections, is people want to see this city work. And they feel as if it's not working," Obama said in a taped interview from the Oval Office....

    President Barack Obama, leaving Sunday for the Asia-Pacific region for a week of international summits, said Democrats didn’t promote the country’s economic progress over the past six years.
  14. PunditFact fact-checks the Oct. 19 news shows

    Politics

    Talk show host Tavis Smiley bemoaned politicians and the media for Ebola fear-mongering on ABC's This Week Sunday, saying things aren't as bad as people are claiming.

    About the same time on Fox News Sunday, conservative columnist George Will stoked panic by saying doctors now think that Ebola could spread through the air via a cough or a sneeze.

    "The problem is the original assumption was — said with great certitude if not certainty — was that you need to have direct contact, meaning with bodily fluids from someone, because it's not airborne," Will said. "There are now doctors who are saying we're not so sure that it can't be in some senses transmitted by airborne."...

    In this Sept. 30 file photo, Gordon Kamara, left, is sprayed by Konah Deno after they loaded six patients suspected to have been infected by the Ebola virus into their ambulance in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia. [Associated Press]
  15. PunditFact: Top 5 falsehoods about Ebola

    Health

    The spread of Ebola in West Africa, and now into Dallas, has stoked plenty of misinformation about the Ebola virus, its origins and the government's response.

    PolitiFact and PunditFact have been fact-checking claims about the Ebola outbreak since July. Here are our top five falsehoods.

    1 No, illegal immigrants haven't carried Ebola across the border.

    In July, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming that people are crossing the southern U.S. border carrying Ebola, citing "reports."...

    Workers at a Doctors Without Borders treatment center for Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 13, 2014. The group known in much of the world as Medecins Sans Frontieres was the first to respond to the crisis, and remains the primary aid group battling the disease here but it, too, has been overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times) XNYT66