Saturday, May 21, 2011

Newspaper calls out U.S. Chamber of Commerce for misrepresenting its material in political ad

It has become common for political commercials to attribute their assertions to newspapers, to enhance the ads' often questionable credibility. That was once limited to newspapers' editorial commentary and reporting of verified facts, but now the ad makers are using such attributions to lend credence to candidates' own assertions that the newsapers report, or just making it up. Newspapers should object to these tactics, and the Tonawanda News in New York did just that this week, with what Politico calls "a double-barreled rebuttal."

The paper published an editorial and a news story, the latter done by its sister paper, the Niagra Gazette, "in order to provide a greater measure of objectivity in its reporting," the News said in an editor's note atop the story by Rick Pfeiffer of Greater Niagra Newspapers. The News objected to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad for Jane Corwin, a candidate in next week's special congressional election, that attributed the headline “Corwin: End harmful regulations” to the News. "It’s that sourcing the News objects to," Burgess Everett of Politico writes.

“There was nothing ever written by the Tonawanda News that would have supported those claims,” News Managing Editor Eric DuVall told Pfeiffer, who reports that the story that appeared on the date mentioned in the commercial "featured none of the claims or quotes contained in the TV ad." He notes that the Chamber did likewise with other papers: "The snippets of text that are featured so prominently in the ad appear to be taken from the editorial or opinion pages of newspapers ranging from the Daily News to the Tonawanda News."

The News editorial, headlined "Chamber ad a shameful misdirection," said, "The advertisement they produced is a blatant attempt to legitimize her flagging campaign by implying that her policy positions are endorsed by this newspaper, when in reality they are not." (Read more)

1 comment:

Erik Gable said...

This happened to me in, I believe, 2002 ... I fact-checked a candidate's assertion, found it to be largely incorrect, but of course first had to repeat it before dissecting it ... and the assertion showed up in a mailer a few days later attributed to my paper.