The media have been raking John McCain over the coals the last couple of weeks, accusing the GOP presidential nominee of being dishonest or even lying in his campaign ads. They're especially angry about an ad the McCain campaign has been running, which accused Barack Obama of supporting a bill when he was a state legislator that mandated comprehensive sex education for children in kindergarten in Illinois. A look at the actual language of the bill Obama supported proves the ad was no lie -- but the media couldn't be bothered to actually check the record.
This week the tables were turned. The Obama campaign has been airing ads in Spanish, accusing John McCain of being "two-faced," using one set of words when he speaks to Hispanic audiences and another when he talks to fellow Republicans. "They want us to forget the insults we've put up with ... the intolerance ... they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much," a narrator says, as the screen flashes some pretty nasty comments by Rush Limbaugh. Some media outlets, including the Washington Post and ABC News, have taken the Obama campaign to task for the dishonesty of the ad, but notably, the coverage has been mostly in the blogosphere, not on the editorial or front pages or on broadcast news programs.
The McCain ad on Obama and sex ed, despite hysteria from the likes of Joy Behar on "The View," turns out to be factually correct. Byron York, White House correspondent for National Review, reports that Illinois Senate Bill 99, which Obama supported in 2003, mandated that "(e)ach class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV." The primary purpose of the bill was to lower the age requirement to kindergarten (it had been sixth grade) and to remove what supporters considered judgmental language from existing law. This passage, contained in the previous law, disappeared from the new bill: "Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage."
So much for McCain's "lies." But what about Obama's new Spanish language ad? In it Obama tries to tie McCain to one of his most outspoken critics, Rush Limbaugh. Throughout the primary season, Limbaugh excoriated John McCain on immigration reform, and he and his callers frequently derided the senator as "Juan McShamnesty." To try to tie McCain to Limbaugh is about as dishonest as it gets.
When it comes to lies, the media get far more exercised over unflattering truths about Barack Obama's record than they do about real distortions of John McCain's.