Most Read: Opinions

direct signup
ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 03:56 PM ET, 11/22/2011

Romney camp: Misrepresenting opponent’s words is completely fair game

As you know, the Romney campaign is airing an ad in New Hampshire that plucks Obama’s words out of context in a comically dishonest way. Obama is shown seeming to acknowledge that talking about the economy is a political loser for him, when in reality, he was quoting a John McCain adviser making that claim. The ad is now being widely pilloried as false.

Now CBS News has gotten a new response from the Romney camp justifying the ad:

Romney senior New Hampshire adviser Tom Rath tells CBS News the ad is “exactly what we want.”
“They were using McCain’s words to make fun of McCain. And we’re using the exact same technique,” he said.
Pressed on whether it was unfair to lop off the top of Mr. Obama’s comments — which would show the president was quoting the McCain camp — Rath said, “He did say the words. That’s his voice.”
He then suggesting that the more people discuss the ad, the better it is for the Romney campaign.

This is a truly remarkable response. The Romney camp is explicitly saying it’s totally fair game to take an opponent’s words out of context in a way that completely changes their meaning, simply because the actual words in question did come out of the speaker’s mouth. As many have noted today, the Romney ad’s decontextualizing of Obama’s words is so egregious that it amounts to a lie. Yet here a Romney adviser is claiming that this is fair game, because he said those words.

Today Think Progress released a new video lampooning the Romney ad with footage of Romney himself torn out of context. It shows Romney saying things like “we should just raise everybody’s taxes,” and “there’s nothing unique about the United States.” Obviously Romney was really saying the opposite of those things. But as Think Progress notes, those depictions are “accurate, according to the Romney standard of accuracy.”

This was meant as a joke. But now a Romney adviser has confirmed that this is, in fact, the Romney standard of accuracy.

Still, WMUR, where the ad is running, won’t be pulling the ad, because ads aired by Federal candidates can’t be pulled by TV stations under Federal law, the way issue ads can be yanked, according to Jeff Bartlett, the general manager at WMUR.

“We don’t have the right to pull any advertisement by a candidate for federal office,” Bartlett tells me. “We have no right to censor it in any manner whatsoever.”

One other point. As Jed Lewison notes today, it won’t matter that Romney’s ad is broadcasting a blatant lie, because media outlets have not been willing to come right out and call Romney a liar. Here you have a Romney adviser basically confirming this, claiming that the media attention to the ad is a positive. One wonders whether this open and explicit admission that the Romney camp is using the media will be enough to prompt more aggressive coverage of its pattern of mendacity.

By  |  03:56 PM ET, 11/22/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company