Every Thursday CapRadio’s PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols speaks with host Steve Milnes for “Can You Handle The Truth?” a weekly conversation about his latest fact checks and reporting on misinformation.
On a postcard that was mailed out nationwide by the Postal Service but led to some confusion for voters
The card landed in mailboxes last week. And it advises people to “plan ahead” if they want to vote by mail — which is definitely good advice. But it also asks voters to request their mail-in ballot 15 days before Election Day. This ‘caused confusion’ because a new state law in California already requires counties to automatically send out mail-in ballots.
So, if you’re a registered voter and you’ve participated in recent elections, you don’t need to make any request, at all.
Elections officials in Sacramento and Yolo counties even released statements last week telling voters that the advice from the Postal Service — about requesting a ballot — just doesn’t apply to most voters here in California.
On misinformation on social media about the cause of the wildfires both here and in Oregon and Washington
My colleagues at PolitiFact in D.C. checked this out. And they found a host of false social media claims, all of which blamed Antifa for intentionally starting these fires especially up in Oregon. Antifa is a loose and broad coalition of left-wing activists. They’ve been a big part of the racial justice demonstrations in Portland this summer.
But there is no evidence that Antifa started any of the fires on the West Coast. Both fire and law enforcement officials — including Portland’s FBI office — have all debunked these rumors.
It’s important to note what the FBI wrote on Twitter this weekend:
“Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away from local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”
They went on to say, “Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources.”
On President Trump during his visit to Sacramento this week
I focused on what was really a striking exchange the president had with California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot.
And Crowfoot urged the president to acknowledge the role of climate change in making the fires worse.
"But I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science. That science is going to be key. Because if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot said.
"Ok, it’ll start getting cooler, you just watch,” Trump replied.
"I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot added.
“I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump responded.
Starting with Trump’s claim that it’s going to get “cooler,” climate scientists say there is just no evidence to support that. The consensus among them is that the climate is warming, that climate change is a key factor in making fires worse and that we should expect more days of extreme heat and fire danger.
On President Trump's claims that forest management is the way to prevent wildfires
The president has over and over talked about clearing trees and even raking leaves in California and he did that again in Sacramento.
And he’s not wrong that forest management is an important part of preventing these massive fires. California officials agree on that.
But experts say it’s just one element. The other big factors are things like urban sprawl, and climate change.
Finally, while both the state and federal governments are responsible for managing the forests, it’s the federal government that owns nearly 60% of those forests in California. That’s a point that the president does not mention when he talks about forest management.
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