October 4, 2016

Snopes has long been our go-to web space for fact checking that outlandish story we just heard on Twitter or Facebook. However, Snopes has taken a hit in credibility this year, primarily because of the work of Kim LaCapria.

LaCapria's thing is the political race—an event that Snopes should approach like one approaches a drunk redneck with an oversized barbecue grill.

Some of her work has been strictly in the realm of easily verifiable events, where a quick look at facts or other fact-checking uncovers the truth and there's little room for debate. Other stories, though, have resulted in far more dubious calls.

Take LaCapria's newest post on the recent Trump PTSD quote that's generated so much controversy. According to LaCapria:

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump did not say veterans suffering from PTSD are "weak," "unfit," and "can't handle" military service.

It is true that Trump did not say these things, but this type of statement is, itself, misleading. Because what Trump said is the following:

Yes I would. Look we need that so badly and when you ... when you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it. And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it.

Trump didn't directly state that those suffering from PTSD are weak, but the statement "...maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you're strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can't handle it" implies it. To the point where focusing specifically on the exact words used, and not the context, becomes a form of falsehood in and of itself.

Especially when LaCapria ended her piece with:

Most critical reporting on the event elided Trump's key contextual assertion that "we're losing so many great people that can be taken care of if they have proper care," So while it's true Trump described present veterans as "strong" during the town hall event, he didn't also describe veterans dealing with mental health issues as weak or unfit.

Trump's follow-up about taking care of people does not set the context for equating people who 'can't handle it' with not being strong. The words don't make what was said, better. There is no other way to judge what Trump said other than, in his view, those who commit suicide and those who suffer from PTSD are "not strong", which is linguistically equivalent to "weak".

You don't have to believe me: look up "strong" in a dictionary, and then look at the first antonym that appears for the word.

Kim LaCapria and Snopes blew it on this one.

Ed. Note: LaCapria also quoted Allen West, whose bias is well-known. The video is above. Perhaps she should have watched before saying what he did and did not say.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.