At risk of sounding terribly earnest, I’m going to continue to insist that it kind of matters that Crossroads GPS — the group founded by Karl Rove that will be a highly influential player in 2012 — is again blanketing airwaves across the country with millions of dollars in ads containing demonstrable falsehoods and distortions.
Here’s the latest, an ad hammering Dem Senate candidate Tim Kaine in Virginia. It’s the third ad Crossroads has released in this week alone containing clear distortions or even outright lies:
The thrust of the ad — which is backed by a $600,000 buy — is that Kaine can’t be trusted to manage fiscal affairs. To buttress that case, the spot makes a series of claims about his tenure as Governor of Virginia and about his support for Obama’s stimulus.
For instance, the ad suggests that the stimulus Kaine supported spent $39 million on “office upgrades for politicians.” That sounds terribly wasteful! But this claim has already been thoroughly debunked — the last time Crossroads made it, in an ad in 2010. PolitiFact looked at the assertion and noted it was based on a project to renovate the Kansas State Capital, but concluded the money is not direct funding; instead it comes from a stimulus bond program to help local governments save money on capital projects. Politifact pronounced the claim “mostly false” — nearly a year ago. Crossroads is now airing it again anyway.
The new ad also claims that under Governor Kaine, Virginia ran “a big deficit.” But the Associated Press politely pointed out that the ad made this assertion “erroniously,” noting that the state constitution forbids finishing a “fiscal year with insufficient funds.”
So here’s where we are. There’s today’s mendacious ad. Yesterday Crossroads released a spot that falsely insinuated Elizabeth Warren supports Occupy Wall Street violence and pushed the egregious distortion that the protesters support “radical redistribution of wealth.” The day before that Crossroads released an ad that plucked a snippet of a Bill Clinton interview out of context to falsely imply that Clinton and Obama differ on spending and taxes. In another context, Politifact knocked this one down, too. And still another Crossroads ad, this one claiming Obama’s position on taxes has changed since 2009, was pronounced untrue by Factcheck.org.
This happened last time, and it’s happening again.Crossroads is going to be a major player this cycle, spending millions upon millions of dollars nationally to influence the 2012 elections. The outside money from both sides will provoke a great deal of media discussion. But outside of a few lonely fact checkers, virtually no media types will care what’s actually in the ads, or question the fact that the discourse is getting swamped by distortions and lies, or try to determine which side is the more egregious offender in this regard, even as millions of voters get misled on a daily basis.