We’ve discussed at length in this space two TV spots running in heavy circulation across Colorado from Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign–the first released a week ago featuring Gardner meme-worthily washing a Maserati while he makes exaggerated claims about travel expenses incurred by John Hickenlooper as governor, and the second released Tuesday featuring Sen. Gardner’s mother in an especially distasteful attempt to whitewash Gardner’s record on protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.
Last night, 9NEWS and FOX 31 in Denver Truth Tested and Checked respectively these two ads, 9NEWS taking the ad featuring Gardner’s mother and FOX 31 tackling the Maserati carwash spot. And in both cases the ads did not hold up well under scrutiny.
9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger says this may have been his “most difficult” Truth Test ever, because it involved debunking claims made by Sen. Cory Gardner’s mother, a cancer survivor and neither a political nor public figure. The reticence by Zelinger to be impolite to Gardner’s mom shows the by-design difficulty of taking on Gardner’s false claims when made through what amounts to a human shield. Nonetheless, Zelinger soldiers on:
…[W]hat Gardner’s mom doesn’t say in the ad is that Gardner’s bill isn’t necessary at this point because Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — is still the law. The Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying you coverage because of preexisting conditions.
It’s not accurate to say “forever.” The Affordable Care Act currently covers people with preexisting conditions and if it’s repealed, a new bill requiring it would need to be signed into law. There’s no guarantee that would happen. Even if Gardner’s bill was needed and signed into law, it could be repealed later. Saying forever is not true.
AD/CLAIM: “No matter what happens to Obamacare.”
VERDICT: This is also not true.
If Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — were to be repealed, insurance companies wouldn’t necessarily be required to take you on in the first place.
This Truth Test is commendable for a number of reasons, not least being the dignified but thorough rebuttal of the claims about Gardner’s latest bill, and explanation of Gardner’s long record of disregarding protections for patients with pre-existing conditions in his many votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rather than focus on the emotionally manipulative aspects of this ad, or fall into the trap of disparaging a highly sympathetic figure, Zelinger just lays out the facts of why the claims are false.
From there, viewers can draw their own conclusions about Gardner’s tactics.
FOX 31’s Truth Check takedown of Gardner’s Maserati ad doesn’t have the same emotional subtext, but it’s no less thorough. Four out of 5 claims in this ad were rated misleading or outright false, including the inflation of a ride from the airport in a Maserati to “touring Europe in a Maserati” in the one claim they marked as “true.” In this case, the subject matter is so obscure and the ad is so downright goofy that it backfires every time somebody watches it–especially with the volume down. It just looks like Cory Gardner loves his Maserati.
The combined impression these two unequivocal fact-checks is that Gardner’s ads are not just deceptive, but weak and desperate–and demonstrative of a completely befuddled re-election message. After six years in office, gimmicks to conceal his record and fact-free cheap shots are all Cory Gardner has to offer Colorado voters.
The Truth Tests don’t lie, and neither do the polls.
The really galling thing about republican lies is that it doesn't matter. Their voters will either believe them regardless of what the fact checkers say, or understand that they're lying but don't give a flying fig. And lying will always bring in a few new low-information voters who don't know and/or don't care to find out.
Interesting article about lies and refuting them: https://medium.com/berkman-klein-center/how-to-refute-a-lie-bb315d3b93fc
Good advice- Don’t repeat the lie, emphasize the truth, and include a visual. It still might get you unfriended on Facebook by someone you’ve known for years, but at least you won’t have that sense of futility, as well.
Unfortunately, the ratio between views of these ads and views of the fact-checks is like a zillion-to-one or thereabouts.
As Bismarck famously said:
"The biggest lies are told after the hunt, before the wedding, and in the middle of the political campaign."