PolitiFact: Ebola is the Lie of the Year

PolitiFact has declared its 2014 lie of the year and, unsurprisingly, its all the bullshit spewed from the right about Ebola. The lies spread like, well, like a virus that was far more contagious than Ebola itself. As recently as October, we were still hearing about the impending doom to be wrought by Ebola.

PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

Fox News analyst George Will claimed Ebola could be spread into the general population through a sneeze or a cough, saying the conventional wisdom that Ebola spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids was wrong.

“The problem is the original assumption, 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 doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or some cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious.” False.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., described Ebola as “incredibly contagious,” “very transmissible” and “easy to catch.” Mostly False.

Internet conspirators claimed President Obama intended to detain people who had signs of illness. Pants on Fire. Bloggers also said the outbreak was started in a bioweapons lab funded by George Soros and Bill Gates. Pants on Fire.

A Georgia congressman claimed there were reports of people carrying diseases including Ebola across the southern border. Pants on Fire. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Americans were told the country would be Ebola-free. False.

When combined, the claims edged the nation toward panic. Governors fought Washington over the federal response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stumbled to explain details about transmission of the virus and its own prevention measures. American universities turned away people from Africa,whether they were near the outbreak or not.

“Americans spent March through July thinking that the outbreak was no threat at all, then from August to October, it was the apocalypse,” said Stephen Gire, a researcher who has been to West Africa and is studying the Ebola genome at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “And now in December, a year after the first case of Ebola infected a young Guinean, Americans are complaining that it was all ‘overhyped.’

“During this whole year, people in West Africa have been dying of Ebola at an increasing rate. We as Americans are so far removed from the reality of what is really going on.”

It was all a big, swirling cauldron of paranoia, stupidity and demagoguery, almost all of it coming from the right wing.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Thankfully, the Republicans took the Senate and solved this Ebola outbreak before Obama’s incompetent “leadership” could turn it into an epidemic.

  • moarscienceplz

    Conservatism can only be sustained by a vortex of fear and anger. If that fear and anger can’t be supported by facts (and they usually can’t), then lies must be employed. Because reality is not important in the slightest, only the fear and anger are.

  • weaver

    Given the rapidity with which the story disappeared following the November elections, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the entire panic was election-year politics rather than any real health concern.

    It was simply viewed as another way to attack Obama – and, consistent with recent history, it doesn’t matter at all that the claims were lies, or that they’d be shown in the end to be stupid, because people (especially their base) don’t remember the aftermath, but only remember the panic and the association with the President – contrived and false association, but once slapped on hard to erase.

  • dingojack

    yep — totally imaginary (except for those black ‘sub-humans’, amiright?)



  • busterggi

    If only the Honduran Flu hadn’t already wiped out Amerka, then, then you’d have have what Obola (as lord Michael Savage called it) would have done!

  • Nick Gotts

    A WHO report on the current state of the ebola epidemic where it is actually an epidemic is available here. While there are still many people dying, most of all in Sierra Leone, it does appear that the local and international effort to contain the disease is now well-organised, after a very shaky start. There is certainly no sign the epidemic is spreading to other countries. Of course, even when the epidemic ends, there will be a legacy of devastated individuals, particularly orphans, and damaged economies.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

    I hesitate to accept the judgments of “fact-checkers” who don’t know when the US holds Congressional elections.

  • dan4

    @8: Right, because a (probable) brainfart on the part of the Politifact writers when they wrote “October” instead of “November” negates all their thorough debunking of all the bullshit Ebola claims.

  • dan4

    Meant &7, not &8 (speaking of brainfarts).