Are political ads fact-checked before they are televised?


Do politicians lie in their ads? Yes.

In How I Learned The Facts of Life, I devote some time to TV product commercials and tell you something you might not know: you can believe that the claims they make are valid, to a certain extent. (You’ll have to wait for the book to learn the “certain extent.”)

But political ads do not have a built-in fact-checking system, so…politicians will lie. And the worst of them will lie egregiously.

Just ran into this example on DailyKos:

Friday, Jul 24, 2020 · 5:13:08 PM EDT · David Nir

CO-Sen: The NRSC has reportedly replaced an ad so appalling that even Republican Sen. Cory Gardner asked the committee to take it down, but its new spot is still replete with falsehoods.

The ad begins by claiming that Democrat John Hickenlooper “took millions in shadowy donations in the governor’s office,” with on-screen text calling them “secretive donation,” but there was nothing secret about them at all. Rather, as 9News’ Marshall Zelinger explained in a detailed fact-check, the website on which the contributions are publicly available is simply not user-friendly.

The narrator then claims that Hickenlooper paid for his defense against charges he’d violated state ethics rules by taking “$100,000 from a 9/11 recovery fund.” This, says the Hickenlooper campaign, is an outright lie: The money came from a 2003 federal bill that cut taxes and sent stimulus funds to the states.

It’s a problem. So, as a voter, the safest position to take when you see a political ad making charges against an opponent is…fact check it before you vote.

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