MSNBC's Brewer aired McCain attack ad without noting its falsehoods

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

Contessa Brewer aired a clip of a McCain campaign ad without noting that the clip falsely suggests that Sen. Barack Obama was behind "attacks on Governor [Sarah] Palin" that have been called "completely false" and "misleading" by FactCheck.org. In fact, while FactCheck.org stated that many "dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages" about Palin are "completely false, or misleading," it made no reference to the Obama campaign. Further, Brewer did not note that the Obama campaign has reportedly denied the ad's second claim, that "Obama airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin."

On September 10, MSNBC Live anchor Contessa Brewer aired a clip of a McCain campaign ad without noting that the clip falsely suggests that Sen. Barack Obama was behind "attacks on Governor [Sarah] Palin" that have been called "completely false" and "misleading" by FactCheck.org. In fact, while the September 8 FactCheck.org article cited by the ad that many "dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages" about Palin are "completely false, or misleading," it made no reference to Obama, Sen. Joe Biden, or the Obama campaign. Further, Brewer did not note that the Obama campaign has reportedly denied the ad's second claim, that "Obama airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin."

Brewer aired the first half of the ad, the voiceover for which claimed the following:

The attacks on Governor Palin have been called completely false, misleading, and they've just begun. The Journal reports Obama airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin.

While the narrator says the words "completely false, misleading, and they've just begun," the ad shows a picture of Obama overlaid with a reference to the September 8 FactCheck.org article and the quotations "completely false" and "misleading." However, Brewer did not note that contrary to the ad's suggestion, FactCheck.org did not in any way apply those adjectives to Obama. In fact, the article debunked "dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages making claims about McCain's running mate, Gov. Palin" and asserted, "We find that many are completely false, or misleading," but did not refer to Obama or his campaign.

Indeed, in a September 10 article titled "McCain-Palin Distorts Our Finding," FactCheck.org stated:

A McCain-Palin ad has FactCheck.org calling Obama's attacks on Palin "absolutely false" and "misleading." That's what we said, but it wasn't about Obama.

Our article criticized anonymous e-mail falsehoods and bogus claims about Palin posted around the Internet. We have no evidence that any of the claims we found to be false came from the Obama campaign.

Additionally, Brewer uncritically aired the second assertion in the ad, which cites a September 9 posting on WSJ.com by John Fund. In the posting, Fund claimed that "Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin's hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background." As Media Matters for America has noted, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported in a September 9 blog post that Democratic National Committee research chief Mike Gehrke called Fund's assertion a "flat-out absolute fabrication" and said, "We have sent absolutely zero people." Additionally, Politico's Ben Smith reported on September 10 that this claim has been "flatly denied by Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, and unconfirmed elsewhere."

From the noon ET hour of the September 10 edition of MSNBC Live:

CONTESSA BREWER: Oh, the gloves are coming off. Barack Obama responding to the criticism from the McCain campaign over a comment Obama made, saying you can't put lipstick on a pig. Mary Ann Akers is a political reporter for washingtonpost.com. Joseph Williams is deputy Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe. Mary Ann, Obama's comments today, how do you think he did responding to the hubbub that has evolved?

AKERS: I think he still has a little bit more digging to do because the McCain campaign is just not going to let this go away, but I think that, right now, the Obama campaign is doing its hardest to try and divert attention away from the lipstick comment. They've changed the subject. They just put out an email to reporters reminding everyone that McCain has seven former lobbyists working on his campaign. So, they're really trying everything they can to move the ball forward a little bit.

BREWER: And yet, when I talked to McCain's policy adviser, she said it was obvious that it was a snide smear against Sarah Palin and in addition to that, the McCain campaign has just released this new ad accusing Obama's campaign of trying to smear Sarah Palin. Let me play part of it.

NARRATOR [McCain campaign ad]: The attacks on Governor Palin have been called completely false, misleading, and they've just begun. The Journal reports Obama airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin.

BREWER: And then, on top of that, we have McCain campaign's truth squad, the Obama campaign is starting the Alaska myth busters -- Joseph, all this attention for a vice presidential candidate.

WILLIAMS: Well, it's kind of interesting to see, because she is the bottom half of the ticket, and opposition reach is something that's pretty much standard operating procedure in most political campaigns. You do try to dig stuff up on your opponent to find things that you can use against them in the general election. This probably happened to Obama when he got named or it looked very clear that he was going to be the choice of the Democrats. I would be hesitant to say the Republicans didn't do any opposition research on him, and there have been quite a few rumors that are still out there swirling about Senator Obama, so much so that he started his own truth squad back when -- before Senator McCain named Governor Palin as his running mate.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Contessa Brewer, Sarah Palin
Stories/Interests
Joe Biden, Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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