Fact Check: Republican Mudslinging On An Industrial Scale

Fact Check is generally an excellent source, but sometimes if you don’t read their analysis closely you might miss the trend as to where most of the deception is. Typically their articles on Republican campaigns shows statements which are outright fabrications. They are often matched with articles on Democrats in which the Democratic claim is accurate but overly simplified and Fact Check throws in more balance.

Today’s report leaves no doubt that, while there might be some inaccuracies from each side, it is the Republicans who are basing their campaigns on untrue claims. From their summary:

Both political parties are functioning in the 2006 House races as factories for attack ads, but the National Republican Campaign Committee’s work stands out this year for the sheer volume of assaults on the personal character of Democratic House challengers.

The ads being aired by both the NRCC and its rival, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, are overwhelmingly negative. However, the DCCC ads generally attack Republican candidates on policy issues or their performance in office – accusing them of casting votes favorable to drug or oil companies, or of supporting President Bush’s unpopular policies in Iraq or on Social Security. We’ve recently criticized factual inaccuracies we’ve seen in some of those, and we’ll have more to say in a later article. Here we focus on the NRCC’s ads, which are much more likely to demean an opponent’s character. That’s the very definition of political mudslinging.

The Republican ads variously accuse Democratic candidates of such things as charging an “adult fantasy” phone call to taxpayers, of being a “hypocrite,” of being a “greedy trial lawyer,” of being a “millionaire know-it-all,” or of failing to pay local business taxes on time. One ad describes a Democrat’s “ethical judgments” as “bad to bizarre” and claims he favored use of 50,000-volt Taser weapons on seven-year-olds.

A derogatory ad can be accurate, and when supported by facts can give voters information about a candidate that they may well find relevant. For example, one NRCC ad correctly states that a Democratic candidate wrote a letter asking a judge to go easy when sentencing a felon convicted of bank fraud in a scandal that bilked hundreds of homeowners. However, several of the NRCC’s ads are smears that twist facts or ignore them. A sheriff running for the House is accused of having “fixed” a speeding ticket for his daughter, for example, when in fact the ticket was paid and the daughter got no special treatment. We found repeated examples of this sort of thing, and we detail them here.

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