Media Debates Anonymous Donors, Ignores Deceptive Ads
As the 2010 midterm election cycle draws to a close, there is a welcome and increasing amount of attention being paid to the exorbitant corporate resources tasked to sway this year’s contests. As feared, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and the Congress’ inability to pass the Disclose Act, have led to an avalanche of anonymously donated money meant to influence your vote. $200 million in outside money is expected. According to The Sunlight Foundation, “That’s an 80 percent increase from 2006, the last mid-term election.”
Much of the media discussion over the controversy has revolved around process and legality — Should the, technically, candidate-unaffiliated 501(c)(4) groups disclose their donors? Or, are the Democrats wise to make it an issue during the campaign? Personally, the answers to both of the above are a resounding YES!
Think Progress’ expose’ on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce taking $885,000 in foreign donations into their domestic 501(c)(6) account was thorough, damning, and worthy of further investigation. On the second point, recent polling indicates that the Democrats are benefiting from raising awareness on the influx of anonymous corporate cash. The issue has also helped Dem fundraising, though nothing remotely close to the amounts wielded by their Republican opponents.
While these points are important and will be debated well after Nov. 2 has come and gone, there is a related matter of supreme and immediate importance that is going largely unnoticed: The content of the ads range from deceptive to objectively false.
Greg Sargent, author of The Plum Line blog at The Washington Post, has been on this for weeks. His Oct. 13 post imparts an incomplete listing of Chamber and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads ads targeting Senate Democrats containing distortions and outright lies, some of which were pulled when the deception was revealed.
From Sargent’s Oct. 18 follow up:
Turns out the same is true of the Chamber’s ads against House Democrats. These Chamber ads, which are running or have run in multiple districts across the country, contain many claims that are demonstrable distortions or have been repeatedly debunked as false by independent fact-checkers.
This is the side of this story that continues to unfold under the media radar. Much of the media focus has been on the high-profile Beltway spat between these groups and the White House and Dems over their undisclosed donors. But the ads themselves are not receiving anywhere near the high-profile media scrutiny that Dem claims about the Chamber have — even though they constitute a massive national campaign flooding airwaves in multiple races that could tip the balance of power in Congress.
Read The Plum Line posts for the details. And there’s this from Political Correction, which gives you an idea what is being lied about and how often:
…Out of 22,000 ads, the Crossroads groups have gone after clean energy legislation in 1,264 (just 6 percent of the total). By contrast, nearly half (10,351) of the ads attack the Affordable Care Act. Of the 10,000 health care ads, 84 percent include the long-disproven claims about “Medicare cuts” and a government “takeover” of the health care industry. That’s 8,697 ads that lie about health care since August began.
Think about it, if you live in one of the targeted districts, you’re being lied to repeatedly for the purpose of either, influencing your vote, or to dissuade you from voting, by people or groups that can’t even vote for one of the candidates — probably the same groups, organizations, or companies that stand to benefit financially if they’re successful — and you are not allowed to know who’s lying to you. Are you okay with that?
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