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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. 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....

    Nancy Writebol poses with children in Liberia. She was one of two Americans working for a missionary group in Liberia that were diagnosed with Ebola. [Photo courtesy of Jeremy Writebol via Associated Press]
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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."...

  5. 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
  6. PunditFact: Fact-checking the Oct. 12 news shows

    Politics

    News that a Texas hospital worker has Ebola dominated the news shows Sunday, with networks stoking fears that the virus could continue to spread in the United States.

    On CNN's State of the Union, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told viewers that the latest developments directly contradict the assurances of President Barack Obama and his administration.

    "We were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States," McCain said....

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell for an update on the response to the Ebola diagnosis in Dallas. [Getty Images]
  7. PunditFact: Fact-checking military might, trust in government

    Politics

    Conservatives on Sunday wanted to discuss people's waning faith in government.

    On CNN's State of the Union, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rattled off a laundry list of failures of Congress and President Barack Obama. On Fox News Sunday, conservative pundit George Will compared the mind-set of Americans today with the Ronald Reagan years.

    Graham was asked what Republicans should prioritize if they take control of the Senate in the midterm elections....

    David E. Johnson, a political scientist at the Rand Corp., estimated that just four modern aircraft carriers would have capabilities equal to that of the entire Navy before World War I.
  8. PunditFact: Fact-checking the Sept. 28 Sunday shows

    Politics

    The debate about the airstrikes in Syria continued Sunday as pundits compared President Barack Obama to President George W. Bush and wondered why Congress is currently in recess.

    On CNN's State of the Union, political commentator LZ Granderson said Obama is losing favor among his base because of his recent foreign policy decisions. In 2008, Obama supporters were tired of the wars started under Bush and were hoping that a new president would bring them to a close....

    A pair of U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle flies over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria last week.
  9. PunditFact fact-checks the Sept. 14 news shows

    Politics

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is facing plenty of questions about his handling of a domestic violence investigation into NFL running back Ray Rice, who was suspended indefinitely last week after video showed him hitting his now-wife in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator.

    Reports suggest the NFL did little to acquire the video, which was first published by gossip website TMZ.com, or that the NFL had the video in its possession all along....

    Janay and Ray Rice speak to the media together in May at the Baltimore Ravens' headquarters.
  10. PunditFact: Fact-checking the Aug. 24 news shows

    Politics

    Republicans say President Barack Obama's decision to pull U.S. armed forces out of Iraq created an incubator that allowed the Islamic State to thrive.

    But according to ABC's Martha Raddatz, Obama himself wanted to keep troops stationed in the Middle Eastern powder keg.

    The Obama administration originally "wanted 10,000 troops to remain in Iraq," Raddatz said Sunday on ABC's This Week. "Not combat troops, but military advisers (and) special operations forces, to watch the counterterrorism effort."...

    President Barack Obama planned to leave about 10,000 troops in Iraq, but couldn't reach an agreement with the Iraqi government.
  11. PunditFact: ISIS threat not imminent; NCAA graduation rates vary

    Politics

    The Sunday shows turned to Washington's de facto Republican foreign policy experts, U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to evaluate the situation in Iraq.

    Their prognosis: America faces an imminent threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and President Barack Obama's policies are failing. McCain said Obama's decision to remove U.S. forces from Iraq created a "vacuum of American leadership throughout the Middle East."...

    FILE - This July 24, 2014, file photo shows Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., as he listens to other Senators speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast. Islamic militants' growing influence in Iraq and Syria are a threat to Americans, lawmakers from both political parties agreed Sunday even as they sharply disagreed on what role the United States should play in crushing them. (AP Photo, File) WX104
  12. PunditFact fact-checks the Aug. 3 news shows

    Politics

    Pundits and politicians in Washington spent Sunday talking about why we're talking about impeachment.

    Democrats point the finger at conservatives such as former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who have raised the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama for what they describe as abuse of his executive power.

    Republicans blame Democrats for stoking an imaginary crisis, using the words of Palin and others as a fundraising gimmick and scare tactic....

    Juan Williams says of  the people who want to impeach President Barack Obama "They are all white, they're all older, and guess what, they're in the far right wing of the Republican Party."
  13. PolitiFact, PunditFact fact-check the Sunday July 27 news shows

    Politics

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended military operations in Gaza on Sunday, while U.S. officials debated what should be done in Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists continue to cause turmoil.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared on CNN's State of the Union and criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Ukraine and the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash....

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., listens to other Senators speak during a news conference on the violence in the Mideast on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo) DCSW107
  14. PolitiFact: Fact-checking John Kerry on the Sunday shows

    Politics

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on all five major Sunday news shows making a strong case that Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists were responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and that Russia is complicit in the separatists' actions.

    "Russia has armed the separatists. Russia has trained the separatists," Kerry told ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos....

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media after closed-door nuclear talks on Iran taking  place in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Intense negotiations with Iran have yielded  tangible progress,  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday, but significant gaps remain ahead of a July 20 target date for a deal meant to put firm curbs on Tehran s nuclear activities in exchange for an end to sanctions.  (AP Photo/Ronald Zak) XRZ106
  15. PunditFact: Fact-checking the July 13 news shows

    Politics

    Politicians and pundits tried to find someone to blame Sunday for the influx of thousands of Central American children at the southern border of the United States, with Republicans singling out President Barack Obama for sending a "message" that America wouldn't enforce its immigration laws.

    On Fox News Sunday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said "the message is, 'Hey come on up here, everything is great, they're taking care of us.' " On Meet the Press, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum took Perry's thought a step further. "We have a president who said, 'Hey, if you come, you're going to be able to stay, because we're not going to enforce the law.' "...

    Young detainees are escorted to an area to make phone calls as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz.