October 13, 2012

The Plum Line

Excerpted from washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line

A barrage of deception

With the presidential race in the final stretch, we’ll be seeing more and more under-the-radar communications — unannounced or highly targeted ads, robocalls and mailers — that I suspect will grow increasingly dishonest as Election Day approaches.

Case in point: a new radio ad that Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-founded outside group, is running in Colorado. The spot is almost comically misleading about the latest unemployment statistics and the trajectory of unemployment on President Obama’s watch.

The ad was picked up by trackers who work for the Bridge Project, the nonprofit arm of the Obama-allied American Bridge. To my knowledge, Crossroads never announced the spot. It features a woman saying she feels let down by the promise of the Obama presidency and painting a grim picture of the economy under Obama.

She then says: “And these latest job numbers? They’re the same as when Obama took office in the middle of an economic crisis.”

This is highly misleading. When Obama took office, the economy in Colorado, just as nationally, was bleeding jobs. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado lost more than 17,000 non-farm jobs in February 2009 and continued losing jobs each month before bottoming out a year later, turning around and beginning to add jobs again. The jobs level has climbed back to where it was in February 2009; perhaps this is the basis for the claim. But the clear implication is that the state of Colorado’s economy has not changed since Obama assumed the presidency, as if things are just as bad now as they were when Obama “took office in the middle of an economic crisis.”

This isn’t the only ad from an outside group ad to mislead about jobs numbers. The Hill recently reported that an ad from American Crossroads, which claimed that unemployment is above 8 percent, ran for days after it was announced that the rate had dropped to 7.8 percent. And even after that announcement, the Hill wrote, the conservative super PAC Restore Our Future expanded the buy behind an ad in three swing states that claimed the jobless rate is “over 8 percent” and that under Obama this is “the new normal.”

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.