The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the nation’s largest owner of television stations, is attacking PolitiFact for a recent fact-check we published about federal funding related to superstorm Sandy.
Sinclair, which has faced criticism for a clear conservative point of view, published a video commentary last week saying we fabricated data related to a fact-check we published on Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz claimed, “Two-thirds of the (Sandy disaster relief) bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”
We found that the bulk of the federal money went to states hit hardest by Sandy.
Sinclair executive Mark Hyman countered, saying that “billions were not for emergency relief. Or for Sandy.”
That could be true, but that isn’t what Cruz claimed. He said the lion’s share of the money had no connection to Sandy.
That’s a bold assertion, and nothing Sinclair presented actually supports it.
It’s a simple question of math and scale. Sinclair’s report said that $16 billion went to the Housing and Urban Development Department. It then gave two examples of that money going to Chicago (to upgrade sewer and water systems) and Springfield, Mass. (to boost development in tornado-damaged low-income neighborhoods). Together, the two grants add up to $85 million.
Those dollars amount to one half of 1 percent of the money HUD got after the storm.
As we reported, HUD granted $12.8 billion to the places hit hardest by Sandy, namely New Jersey, New York and New York City. That represents about 80 percent of the HUD total, the opposite of Cruz’s claim that two-thirds had nothing to do with Sandy.
There are valid reasons to debate what qualifies as emergency relief and what is non-emergency spending. We noted that distinction in our report, as well as that the Sandy appropriation bill was a leaky bucket. The money, for example, could be spent on disasters in 2011, 2012 and 2013. We also highlighted that it takes years to spend many of those billions of dollars, especially when they go to roads, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure.
The Sinclair report concluded by saying that PolitiFact “is fabricating info and presenting false claims.” That is simply not true. Our reporting is accurate, and we list all of our sources.
Whenever we can, we let the numbers do the talking and in the case of Cruz’s statement, the numbers spoke loud and clear. He said two-thirds had nothing to do with Sandy. The dollars show that the bulk of the money went to the places hit hardest by Sandy.