AD WATCH| Evaluating the accuracy of political advertising
A Reminder of Tragedy
Tuesday, March 9, 2004; Page A6
Candidate: President Bush
Images: Bush being sworn in; stock tickers; the World Trade Center ruins; firefighters carrying a flag-draped coffin; a black father and his daughter raising the flag; happy faces; a montage of construction workers and Bush speaking before a sign that says "Working."
Producer: Maverick Media
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: [Text on screen]: January 2001: The Challenge. An economy in recession. A stock market in decline. A dot com boom...gone bust. Then...a day of tragedy. A test for all Americans. Today, America is turning the corner. Rising to the challenge. Safer, stronger. President Bush. Steady leadership in times of change.
Analysis: This ad has drawn criticism from victims' families and the firefighters union, which supports John F. Kerry, for its use of Sept. 11 images, but the footage is brief and there are no dramatic pictures of the burning towers or the aftermath. The commercial offers no proof for the assertion that the country is "turning the corner" or is "safer" and "stronger" today.
Economists say the recession began in March 2001, not when the president was sworn in, although the stock market slide began in the final year of Bill Clinton's term. The "Working" sign behind Bush is at odds with the net loss of 2.9 million jobs during his term, and no mention is made of the president's tax cuts or any other policy that contributed to the swelling budget deficit.
Unlike Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" ads, this spot uses soft music to suggest that Bush is pulling the country out of one of its darkest hours--but provides no substantive claims to back that up.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company