A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Misdirection from Crossroads GPS

A group with ties to Karl Rove sends viewers astray in a $2 million ad campaign attacking Democratic Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, California and Kentucky. The ads make badly misleading claims about the health care legislation …

Angle’s Blame Game, Reprise

GOP candidate Sharron Angle’s latest ad blames rival Sen. Harry Reid for Nevada’s dramatic decline in home value. That’s a real stretch. Angle gets the numbers right, but doesn’t show that Reid is responsible.
In fact, the housing bubble was already starting to deflate by the time Reid became Democratic leader of the Senate.
The ad is another dubious attempt by the Republican tea party enthusiast to pin responsibility for Nevada’s economic woes on the incumbent.

Colorado PAC Attacks

Democratic candidates in Colorado’s Senate primary are attacking each other’s acceptance of PAC money — but one is being misleading, while the other fails to tell the full story.
First out of the box was Andrew Romanoff, accusing incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet of taking "nearly a million dollars from Washington special interests," including "big banks" and "big oil."

That’s true as far as it goes. By "special interests," Romanoff is referring to political action committees. And it’s true that Bennet had raised $1.3 million from PACs for his election through the end of June –

Shirley Sherrod’s Contextual Nightmare

We’ve posted no shortage of pieces on political attacks that leave context on the cutting room floor to give the public a misleading impression. An opponent’s statements, cherry-picked and shorn of any language that could provide the intended meaning, can be shaped into a slashing ad.
Or they can lose a woman her job. The latest victim of the missing context trick is U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod. Her story shows the harm that can result from taking something out of context —

Maligning Maloney by Mailer

In a flurry of mailers sent to New York’s Upper East Side Democratic voters, challenger Reshma Saujani claims that incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney has taken $2.5 million from "special interests" while she has accepted none. Um, really? What about the $220,000 Saujani has received from Wall Street, her leading source of campaign funds?

Yes, Maloney has accepted more than $2.5 million from political action committees over the course of her career ($588,561 in this election cycle),

Sunday Replay

Call this one the Axelrod Edition. President Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, was on three of the political talk shows on July 11, and we found that he strayed from the factual straight-and-narrow several times in talking about the oil spill, border security and other issues.
We also found Republican congressman Brian Bilbray overstating support for an immigration bill and Attorney General Eric Holder repeating a claim we’ve critiqued before about how many terrorism trials have taken place in the civilian justice system.

Loans to Mobsters, Ties to BP? Kirk’s Attack Ads Go Too Far

Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is attacking his Democratic opponent in the Illinois race for the U.S. Senate with two ads that go beyond what the facts support. The ads make unsupported claims about the role Giannoulias played at his family’s troubled bank and strain  to tie him to BP, among other dubious statements.
Kirk released the new ads less than a day after he apologized for embellishing his own military record.
Bank Shot
According to one of the ads,

Oil Spill Whoppers

The April 20 explosion that started oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico has prompted a slew of claims and counterclaims about the disaster. What caused it, how it’s being handled, the history of drilling accidents in the area – all are subjects ripe for false or misleading statements by politicians and others. …

Sunday Replay

On the Sunday before confirmation hearings kicked off for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, we heard several misleading comments having to do with her or nominations of earlier years. We also found no evidence to back up Sen. John Cornyn’s claim that the new health care law was negatively impacting seniors’ access to health care. And Sen. Lindsey Graham’s assertion that Rahm Emanuel said it’s administration "policy" to pull troops out of Afghanistan "in large numbers"

The Barton Apology, Stretched Too Far

In a new ad, the Democratic National Committee inaccurately accuses "the Republican Party" of endorsing Rep. Joe Barton’s notorious public apology to the CEO of BP.
The ad goes too far when it tries to grease all Republicans with the same oily mess the Texas Republican made for himself at the June 17 hearing on the Gulf oil spill. Some Republicans have voiced similar positions. But other leading GOP lawmakers have made clear that Barton and the others don’t speak for the party.