PolitiFact’s Lie Of The Year: Mass (Conservative) Hysteria Over Ebola

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December 15, 2014 4:43 p.m.

It wasn’t a particular person or fact that earned PolitiFact’s 2014 Lie of the Year, but the general mass hysteria that accompanied the Ebola epidemic.

And though PolitiFact doesn’t say it, its most prominent examples were conservative figures, which isn’t too surprising given the level of delirium on Fox News and elsewhere once the disease, which has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, claimed one life on American shores.

“Fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits,” PolitiFact’s authors wrote. “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.”

“The claims β€” all wrong β€” distorted the debate about a serious public health issue,” they continued. “Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.”

Conservative commentator George Will theorized Ebola could be spread through sneezing or coughing (False). Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) insisted it was “easy to catch” (Mostly False). Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) worried “illegal migrants” could be bringing it across the U.S. southern border (Pants On Fire). Those were the some of the top examples cited by PolitiFact.

Democrats weren’t entirely absolved, however. The fact-checking group also singled out Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor’s false claims about his GOP opponent’s votes on public health funding, which Pryor then portrayed as voting against “preparing America for pandemics like Ebola.” Pryor lost his Senate seat.

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