Fake Economic Charts Going Viral on Right-Wing Blogs

Real Charts based on Fake Data and Graph Settings

When you think you have seen everything, that is when you find yourself shaking your head in disbelief.  Since the general election campaign has kicked off, I have been following politics really closely to see what dirty tricks emerge.  Well, I have found one – and in the age of social media, its a big one.

Yesterday I noticed a chart on a right-wing site that had an article that had been posted to Digg.  In the post there was a chart.  The chart was supposed to show deficit information about the last 6 presidents.  I though to myself ‘wow that doesn’t look good for Obama’ but then I noticed something rather odd. The numbers did not match the chart.  When I plugged the same numbers into excel, the chart looked completely different.

This piqued my interest.  Was this just a one-off, or were there more to be found.  It took me all of 15 minutes to find another one.  However, this one used a different technique.  This chart claimed to use data from the CBO.  When I looked the information up on the CBO web site, the data for Obama was off by 25% for 2009 and 45% for 2010.

Over the next couple of hours I found the same inaccurate charts all over the web.  While some claimed to be based on data from governmental agencies (CBO, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and others). Other charts were creative interpretations of data created by right wing think tanks and PACs.

As these graphs make their way to Facebook, how many people are going to be duped?  How many people are going to take the time to look up the the data in the chart to see if it is accurate before hitting the Share or Like button?  How much milage will the right be able to get off of pure lies and deception?  Looks like we are going to find out.

Lesson of the story – when you see a chart on the internet, 1) look at it carefully to see if the scale is off and 2) check the source of the data.  If the information varies wildly from the points below, it is probably fake.  If you find a fake chart – report it to The Truth Team (if against Obama) and MittRomney.com (if against Romney)


This post was written to describe something I observed on the internet – that is exactly what the post does.  The intention of the post was not make the fake charts I saw go viral or to point out specific websites.  The intention of the post was to bring up the point that people need to be more savvy in this age and not believe everything that you see on the internet. Do your homework – check the facts – if you find a lie – report it.

If you do not believe my observations, that is absolutely fine.  I am not going to expend any energy to try to convince anyone.  However, if you look at the next graph on a blog a bit more closely (whether it is right, left or middle) – I think this is a good thing.



This entry was posted in 2012 Elections, Budget, Deficit, Economy, Republican, Truth Files. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Fake Economic Charts Going Viral on Right-Wing Blogs

  1. Good work catching the discrepancies, though I would of been interested in seeing the Before & After charts in detail.

    I debunked a RW numbers myth myself this week. While Republicans are demanding Austerity from Democrats, guess which governors have increased the size of their Public Sector workforce the most since Obama took office? I’ll give you one guess. :)


  2. Zoraida says:

    The numbers for the charts are right, it is when you chose to start the spending/deficits/tax cuts under which President that determines how they look and that is subject to whim and opinion.

    As to assigning our debt to tax cuts, defense spending, or whatever; the responsibility for the debt is in the eye of the beholder. When your wife looks at your family credit card debt she sees too many Star Bucks coffees and too many sets of new golf clubs and golf memberships. When you look at your family credit card debt you see too many shopping trips to the malls.

    • fiona says:

      LOL @ “the responsibility for the debt is in the eye of the beholder” and your totally not sexist comment…oh wait.

    • vjoseph says:

      No, the numbers that we found were not correct – they were factually incorrect. The fact that a bar in a graph was 45% taller than it was supposed to be???? This is not a matter of a difference of opinion – these are blatant and provable lies.

      When you are overdrawn at the bank, that is not something that is just a ‘difference of opinion’ – at least not in the real world.

    • john says:

      A governmental budget IS NOT an equal metaphor to family budget. Not the same at all. No family would spend money on defense spending like the percentage the US does. A family would educate and support their own. The taxes currently paid i.e. how the 30% is spent, are not high enough much when we can’t even help our own- Katrina for starters-as well as many homeless Americans. Cut oil subsidies and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. That will jump-start the economy.

  3. Crotchety Commenter says:

    Interest is piqued not peaked.

  4. You should have made a list of the sites that were promoting this nonsense. In fact, a year or so ago, I stumbled through this same thing. Well, actually, what they had done was to take the numbers but when it was converted into a bar graph, there was a glaring misrepresentation of them. For example, 20% looked the same as 40%.
    Bottom line, they are counting on the people being so full of hate and (sorry) just plain stupid. They will stop at nothing to get back into the White House and destroy what’s left of the country.

    • vjoseph says:

      I considered doing that but I opted on reporting these to the Truth Team. I didn’t want those specific sites (of which there were many) to become the focus, but rather the unbelievable practice of doing this. I hope a site with much more influence than this one will pick this up and run with it – it needs to be exposed.

      The manipulation of the bar graphs that you mentioned was one of the sneakiest and most common manipulation we found.

  5. The Truth Team isn’t cutting it. I didn’t find a single mention of these charts by clicking around there. Please put up a list of the websites where these can be found. Thanks!

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  7. fuelcelz says:

    Would like to thank MEEP for her pingback and commentary about out post. Brought up some good points and was careful not to go into that shrill right vs left insult-fest which always proves to be a waste of time.

    However, unfortunately my experience with Dan Collins and Jefferson101 was not so pleasant. Shrill insults wrapped in poorly written sentences that showed a 6th grade mastery of grammar. Not impressed at all. What makes it worse, they were trying to be clever. These two could be poster boys for what is so wrong with right-wing digg patriot ranters. Case in point, here is Dan Collins –

    “Or did you mean anything at all? You’re a con, a flim-flam, someone who wants to take credit for knowledge and understanding and, above all, authority that they do not have, and do not deserve. I was not defending Meep. She can do that quite well on her own, me bucko. I’m defending my readers from having to be bored by preening, shallow jackwagons, like you. Adios.”

    After this, he didn’t approve any additional comments from me. The first thing that came to my mind – “What a fucking idiot – grow up kid”. Now after looking more closely at the blog, it is obvious that this is a couple of college kids trying to jump on the conservative money train by creating a blog and selling advertising. MEEP, I’d ditch these losers and do your own thing – they are going absolutely nowhere. Nobody is going to come back to a blog like this.

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  9. Janet says:

    I just took a look at the comments they lobbed at you – what a bunch of rude idiots. MEEP was civil but the two guys? Sounds like they freshmen in college and probably both have 20 digg accounts..lol In a word, losers.

    Yes, if they were real, they would check you facts but what they would quickly find is that they are all correct and they don’t tell the story that are going to get them those conservative advertisers they are seeking. Just rude kids with no life experiences – don’t sweat it honey :-)

  10. Vlad says:

    Janet – we were on the same wavelength..LOL I looked at the site too. In the post – “Lies, Deficits and Even More Irony” they use PROJECTIONS from 2009 onward. Its 2012 – are their readers idiots?? They proved your point for you.

    The other posts I glanced at were written at a 9th grade level? Could be off by a year or too, but as someone who learned english as a second language, I know awful grammar when I see it.

  11. fuelcelz says:

    I was just at a “conservative” blog watching a conversation about this blog. The only problem is that they blocked comments from me when I was pointing out what buffoons they were for launching into immediate insults as soon as I responded

    I challenge anyone from that site to find ONE incorrect fact on this site. They won’t do it because they will not be able to find one.

    Finally, with respect to whether this site is a Centrist site, they need to do a little homework. Centrist does not mean the exact center of whatever the Democratic or the Republican policies are. Centrist positions are centrist positions. The fact that the Republicans have abandoned traditional conservative or libertarian positions on social issues and have demonstrated over the past decade that they far from fiscally conservative is not our fault or problem. As soon as their positions come back to the center, we will give glowing reviews. At the moment Democratic policies are in line with centrist positions.

  12. Pingback: Fake Economic Charts Going Viral on Right-Wing Blogs | Just As I Thought

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