Friday, August 26, 2011

Rule of thumb: if that chain email says "Fox News learned...", check it out

An "outrage" email I got today said:
"Monday on Fox news they learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention if other news networks will broadcast it. ... just where will all of it stop?"

Now I'm as gullible as the next person, so I confess I might have swallowed it but for the "Fox News" reference. But that triggered the critical thinking circuits, so I went to and found Congress Not Exempt from Student Loans, from back in January:
"Q: Is it true that members of Congress, their staffers and their family members do not have to pay back their student loans?

A: Not true. Some congressional employees are eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans repaid after several years — just like other federal workers. But that’s not the case for members of Congress or their families.


My sister just sent me a chain e-mail that is trying to make a case for a 28th amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law that members of Congress are exempt from obeying themselves. The e-mail uses the following example: ..."
Obviously, if that chain email you got is promoting outrage of any ilk it's probably wise to check it out, but checking out one that cites Fox is pretty much a no-brainer.


Factchecking other claims in same email:
"Q: Does a United States senator receive his full pay upon retiring?

A: No. A member of Congress can’t receive more than 80 percent of his or her final salary upon retirement, and the average is much less.

We get this question a lot because of a chain e-mail that people keep forwarding without checking it out ..." (link)
and to sum it up,
"Q: Is Congress exempt from "many" laws including one against sexual harassment?

A: No. The latest e-mail rant against Congress — proposing a "28th Amendment" to the Constitution — is full of false and outdated claims.
... " (link)

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