A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Whoppers of 2008

Summary
Normally we post a “Whoppers” compilation the week before Election Day. This time we’ve already seen such a large number of twisted facts, misleading claims and outright falsehoods that we are doing that now.
It’s not just Sarah Palin’s claim about killing the bridge project that she had supported until it became a national laughingstock and Congress turned against it. That’s just the whopper that got the attention of many news organizations earlier this month.

Keeping Quiet?

Summary
A new McCain-Palin ad says that "McCain and his congressional allies led" on the financial crisis while Obama was "mum." That's simply not true:

Obama has in fact made several statements about the crisis on Wall Street in recent days, delivering his most specific remarks on how government regulations should be changed on Sept. 22, a day before this ad was released.
McCain gave his most detailed speech on a response to the crisis on Sept.

Call of the Wild

Summary
A new ad from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund shows the pursuit and shooting of a wolf from a small plane and tells viewers that Sarah Palin "actively promotes" such killings. It's true that she does, and in 2007 she offered $150 payments for anyone who brought the left forepaw of a wolf to state officials. The ad calls the practice "brutal and unethical" but doesn't tell the whole story.

Alaskan officials call it "predator control,"

‘Born Alive’ Baloney

Summary
A anti-abortion group is running an ad featuring a woman who says she survived a failed abortion and that "if Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here." She's wrong. If she'd been born in Illinois, Illinois law would have protected her with or without the "born alive" legislation that Obama opposed and that this group supports.
 
The Obama campaign countered with its own false ad. It accused McCain of wanting to ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest,

Guilt and Associations

Summary

A McCain-Palin ad says that Obama was "born of the corrupt Chicago political machine" and implies that the candidate himself is corrupt by association with four local political figures. But the ad’s implication and many of its supporting details are false. In fact, this is a particularly egregious example of ricochet sliming:

William Daley, the first figure mentioned in the ad, is indeed related to the other famous Chicago Daleys, but he’s never been accused of any wrongdoing.

NRA Targets Obama

Summary
A National Rifle Association advertising campaign distorts Obama's position on gun control beyond recognition.
The NRA is circulating printed material and running TV ads making unsubstantiated claims that Obama plans to ban use of firearms for home defense, ban possession and manufacture of handguns, close 90 percent of gun shops and ban hunting ammunition.
Much of what the NRA passes off as Obama's "10 Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment" is actually contrary to what he has said throughout his campaign: that he "respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms"

Out of Context on Health Care

Summary
An Obama-Biden ad falsely claims McCain says he wants to "do the same to our health care" that "Wall Street deregulation" has done to the banking industry.
The ad relies on a single phrase from a journal article under McCain's byline, in which he said he would reduce regulation of health insurance "as we have done over the last decade in banking." But the full context reveals that McCain was referring narrowly to his proposal to allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines.

Obama’s Social Security Whopper

Summary
In Daytona Beach, Obama said that "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week." He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers."
That’s not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts.

Sparring in Spanish

Summary
An Obama TV ad tells Spanish-speaking viewers that McCain is "friends" with Rush Limbaugh, and quotes the radio host as calling Mexicans "stupid and unqualified" and telling them to "shut up or get out." The ad is doubly misleading. Limbaugh has until recently disparaged McCain repeatedly to his audience. And Limbaugh says his words are ripped out of context and twisted in the ad. In any case they don't represent McCain's position.
 

Scaring Seniors

Summary
A new Obama ad characterizes the "Bush-McCain privatization plan" as "cutting Social Security Benefits in half." This is a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks. In truth, McCain does not propose to cut those checks at all.
The ad refers to a Bush proposal from 2005 to hold down the growth of benefits for future retirees. Compared to the buying power of benefits paid to today’s retirees,