The Washington Post

Outside groups running ads that lie about jobs numbers

As the presidential race hits the final stretch, you’ll be seeing more and more under the radar communications — unannounced or highly targeted ads, robocalls, mailers — that will grow increasingly dishonest as Election Day approaches.

Case in point: A new radio ad that the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS is running in Colorado that is almost comically misleading about the latest unemployment statistics and the trajectory of unemployment on Obama’s watch.

The ad, which is embedded below, was intercepted by ad trackers who work for Bridge Project, the nonprofit arm of the Obama-allied American Bridge, the group says. To my knowledge, Crossroads never announced the spot. It features a woman claiming to feel let down by the promise of the Obama presidency and painting a grim picture of the Obama economy.

She then says this: “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. Colorado lost over 17,000 jobs in February of 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 now 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 the economy in Colorado has not changed since Obama assumed the presidency, as if things are just as bad now as it was 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 another ad from American Crossroads that claimed unemployment is over eight percent kept running for days after it was announced that the rate had dropped to 7.8 percent. And even after that announcement, the Hill says, the conservative Super PAC Restore Our Future expanded the buy behind an ad in three swing states that claimed the jobless rate is “over eight percent” and that under Obama, this is “the new normal.”

Readers: This is when all of this stuff — ads, robocalls, mailers — begins to flow fast and furiously. Please let me know what you’re seeing in your states. You know where to find me.

Update: It’s worse than I thought. Today’s Post reports that Restore Our Future has put six million dollars behind this ad in Florida, Iowa, and Virginia. It’s very craftily worded. “Welcome to the new normal, where over eight percent unemployment is `doing fine,’” it says.

In other words, the ad implies that unemployment is over eight percent but doesn’t say so directly, instead tying that claim to Obama’s “doing fine” quote, which came when unemployment was indeed over eight percent. Of course, that’s highly misleading, too: Obama never described the unemployment rate in those terms. At any rate, the ad’s clear intent is to mislead people into thinking the unemployment rate is higher than it is.

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


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