On "False and Misleading" Statements, Campaign Blame Falls Mainly on McCain
The early talk of an unusually dignified campaign year had caused worry at places like FactCheck.org, a group devoted to highlighting false and misleading campaign statements under the auspices of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
"If the dialogue becomes too elevated, I'll have to retire," said Brooks Jackson, the FactCheck.org director. "So far, no danger there."
The group has had a particularly busy couple of weeks, with Mr. McCain's campaign and the Republican Party providing much of the fodder recently.
There was the party-sponsored television advertisement and a McCain-sponsored Web video that said Mr. Obama was opposed to "innovation" on energy policy, the development of electric cars and nuclear power. (Mr. Obama has proposed a $150 billion investment in the accelerated development of alternative energy sources, including hybrid-electric car engines, and does not oppose nuclear energy.)
There was a McCain campaign claim that Mr. Obama voted 94 times "for higher taxes" (the tally includes nearly two dozen instances in which Mr. Obama simply did not go along with proposed cuts by Republicans), and a McCain and Republican Party radio advertisement that said Mr. Obama supported raising taxes on people who made as little as $32,000. The bill in question was a nonbinding budget resolution that did not propose raising taxes on anybody who made less than $41,500.
Mr. Obama's campaign began running a response radio ad on Friday citing the critique by FactCheck.org of that accusation, with one character equating the Republican claim with the tactics of President Bush's former strategist Karl Rove.
By contrast, the Times has been quite selective about reporting campaign gaffes and misstatements on Obama's side of the political aisle. Back on June 29, Rutenberg found misleading campaign clips solely on the right side of the web, rushing to Obama's defense on two occasions.
On Saturday, Rutenberg did spare a couple of paragraphs for Democratic misstatements, though withholding the "just like Karl Rove" relish the Democratic side spread on top of its refutation:
Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party have also taken their lumps for misstating Mr. McCain's positions. Mr. Obama said last month that Mr. McCain's campaign was "fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs"; such donations accounted for a small percentage of Mr. McCain's campaign money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On Thursday, Mr. Obama said Mr. McCain believed the economy had made "great progress." He was quoting from an interview Mr. McCain gave to Bloomberg Television last spring in which he referred to job creation under Mr. Bush but added that it was "no comfort to families now that are facing these tremendous economic challenges."