Nah, that ribbon may forever be pinned to Politifact's chest -- but this offering from Buffalo's NBC affiliate is pretty egregious. At issue is the National Republican Campaign Committee's first attack ad against Kathy Hochul, the Democratic nominee in NY-26's special election. (The seat is vacant following Republican Congressman Chris Lee's abrupt resignation last month in the midst of a sordid sex scandal). Here's the new TV spot that failed NBC2's "Truth Test:"
Disregard everything you've just seen and heard, "Two On Your Side" warns viewers, because it's all a pack of dirty GOP lies. Watch as truth-telling correspondent Michael Wooten (that's Michael.Wooten@WGRZ.com) exposes the NRCC's "false" and "misleading" assertions:
Wooten says the ad is "false right off the top" because it insinuates Hochul is a Washington Lobbyist. The truth: She was a lobbyist in DC, but isn't any more. Busted! Except...the commercial doesn't say Hochul is an active lobbyist. In fact, it clearly indicates just the opposite. Wooten conveniently clips the footage right before the voiceover explains how the Democrat "learned how to tax and spend as a Washington lobbyist, and she's been taxing and spending ever since." Based on my rudimentary grasp of the english language, "learned" is in the past tense, and "ever since" generally refers back to a previous incident or action.
"As most of us know, Hochul doesn't even live in the nation's capital," Wooten snidely reports. That's correct, as evidenced by the Buffalo, New York street address depicted in the ad itself.
Next, our intrepid truth squad blows the lid off of several additional "misleading at best" claims in the spot. The script "misleads" viewers by suggesting that as a local and county executive, Hochul voted "to raise fees on all kinds of things," including playing golf and owning a dog.
The verdict: It turns out that Hochul did, in fact, vote to raise fees on golfing -- but only on public courses. And the vote was unanimous. And ("the kicker") it was supported by a citizens' group. Busted! Although the NRCC claim may be absolutely true, Wooten admonishes his audience, what drags it into "misleading at best" territory is the omission of some barely germane (at best!) context.
What about the "misleading" claim that Hochul raised fees on dog ownership? Lay your righteous truthiness on us, Michael: "Hochul did vote to impose a dog licensing fee in 2004," but it was required by the state and was lower than a similar fee in a neighboring town. Busted! Thank heavens NBC2 is "on our side." Without their convoluted "fact check," I might have come to the conclusion that the candidate had done...precisely what she did.
Interestingly, this "truth test" doesn't challenge the NRCC's facts on Hochul's fee (i.e. "tax") increases on ice skating, gym membership, cabin renting, or beach going. Perhaps the Hochul campaign couldn't muster a single threadbare, ass-covering excuse for NBC 2 to breathlessly report on those points.
Wooten wraps up the segment by informing us that he's reached out to the NRCC for a response to his reportage, but has not yet received a statement (the Hochul campaign called the whole commercial a "smear tactic," natch). I know the NRCC has a crackerjack press shop that's more than capable of handling this sort of thing, but just for fun, I thought I'd take a stab at crafting a statement of my own:
"Despite NBC 2's best efforts at Democrat-enabling obfuscation, the contents of this advertisement are factually accurate -- as your 'truth test' inadvertently makes clear."
Too much snark?
UPDATE - NBC2 has updated their write-up with an official response from the NRCC:
The RNCC defended using "Washington Lobbyist" in the ad. Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said, "It's amazing how quickly Hochul is distancing herself from her extensive career as a Washington insider and lobbyist. One thing we know for sure, Western New Yorkers are quickly learning that they can't afford to send Kathy Hochul to Congress."
Bozek referred to a newspaper article that claimed Hochul said she "has always been enamored with the whole 'D.C. thing.'"