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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: 17 candidates, 2 debates, 1 Donald Trump and plenty to fact-check

    National

    Seventeen candidates, five moderators, two debates, one Donald Trump. All of it kept the fact-checkers busy Thursday.

    Let's start with Trump.

    Early in the prime time Republican presidential debate, Fox News moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump on some of his past statements about undocumented immigration — the signature issue of Trump's campaign.

    Wallace asked Trump, "What evidence do you have, specific evidence, that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border?"...

    Republican presidential candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Carson (back to camera) and Jeb Bush visit during a commercial break in Thursday’s debate at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
  2. In Mostar, a bridge spans war and peace

    Travel

    MOSTAR, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The scars of war remain around every corner in this tranquil river valley town, though they can be easy to miss amid the sea of camera-carrying tourists.

    The European waiter who says he hasn't been on a train in 25 years. The "I (heart) Mostar" mural trying, and failing, to cover up bullet holes on a concrete wall. The manicured hillside graveyard with the rows of white marble tombstones that nearly all read 1993. ...

    In Mostar, a small city nearly three hours by train from Sarajevo, the main attraction is the Old Bridge, where boys jump off — and into the icy cold Neretva — to prove they’re men.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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....

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets supporters at the party’s election headquarters March 18 in Tel Aviv. Before the elections, Israel had already become a source of division, rather than unity, for American Jews, who bitterly debated the ever-expanding Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and the acceptable boundaries of dissent from Israeli policies. The outcome of the Israeli election will only deepen that polarization, experts say. Netanyahu’s anti-Arab campaign rhetoric and his rejection of a Palestinian state, they say, will further splinter American Jews into hard left and right camps, and intensify conflicts over what it means to be loyal to the Jewish state.
  6. 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....

    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24:  Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (C) talks with reporters after a news conference about the possible shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at the U.S. Capitol February 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Democrats have successfully blocked the $39.7 billion funding legislation because it would also strip away the executive actions in which President Barack Obama eased the deportation threat for several million undocumented immigrants. If Republicans and Democrats can not work around the impasse then 30,000 DHS employees will go home February 28 and 200,000 more will work without paychecks until a solution is found.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 539693291
  7. 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.
  8. 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. ...

    PunditFact Editor Aaron Sharockman and Donna Brazile after the panel conversation. National Press Club event for PunditFact.
  9. 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."...

    Portrait of U.S. Army Gen. John M. Keane, (Uncovered), Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, (U.S. Army photo by Mr. Scott Davis) (Released) (PC-193213), VIRIN: 99716-A-3569D-001
  10. 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.
  11. 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....

  12. 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....

    Oil from the Bakken region of the Northern Plains has helped the United States become the world's top oil producer.
  13. 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....

    Dr. Kent Brantly, right, was one of  two Americans who contracted Ebola in Africa. He was taken to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. [Photo by Samaritans Purse via Getty Images]
  14. 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.
  15. 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.