January 14, 2006
FactCheck backs up anti-DeLay ad

And as I thought, the rejection of the anti-DeLay ad by Houston's wussy local TV stations has kept it in the news.

"We find that DeLay's lawyer mischaracterized what the ad said, and that the ad contains nothing that is strictly false," said Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. "The worst we can say of the ad is that its ambiguous wording" could mislead viewers about the details of DeLay's interactions with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is cooperating with a federal investigation of lawmakers and their aides.

The review came after a lawyer for DeLay's re-election campaign, Don McGahn, this week contacted four Houston television stations that had sold airtime for the ad. McGahn called the spot "reckless, malicious and false" and hinted that the stations could face legal trouble if they ran it. They didn't.


With Factcheck.org's analysis in hand, the sponsoring groups are now encouraging Houston residents to contact the stations — KTRK (Channel 13), KRIV (Channel 26), KHOU (Channel 11) and KPRC (Channel 2) — and demand that they air the ad, which has appeared on cable stations in Houston and on the Internet.

The spot "contains important information about what Tom DeLay does in Washington and we think people in Houston need to know," said David Donnelly, national campaigns director of the Public Campaign Action Fund. The stations either did not return calls seeking comment or, when reached, declined to speak about the ad on Friday.


Factcheck.org said, "The ad's wording was ambiguous ... The ad didn't say DeLay got the money directly, only that it 'allegedly' was to influence his vote. And the Post did in fact state just such an allegation."

The reference to Russian tycoons "could certainly give viewers the impression that DeLay is being accused of worse things than the Post actually reported. But the words are hardly 'the opposite' of the Post's reporting, as DeLay's lawyer claimed."

The full analysis is here. FactCheck.org doesn't exactly have the best reputation among liberal bloggers, so I'm not going to do a 180 here and proclaim that their stamp of approval on this ad erases all doubts about it. Read their piece, view the ad, and compare it to the original WaPo piece on which the ad was based, then come to your own conclusions. And wonder again if any of our pusillanimous local stations have anyone on staff who could have given them an opinion as to whether they should have listened to DeLay's lawyer or called his bluff and told him to go pound sand.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 14, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

The Chronicle has the new DeLay poll online now.

Only problem is --- the headline write obviously couldn't spell "crater" so they used "erode."

Check the raw numbers, too.

Posted by: Susan on January 14, 2006 6:59 PM

The big knock liberals have against FactCheck is that they practice "false balance" - for every distortion by one side, they feel compelled to find an "equivalent" distortion by the other, often to the point of "balancing" egregious GOP lies with technical quibbles or even wholly imaginary concerns about "misleading" Democratic ads (as the Atrios link hilariously demonstrates). Presumably, that's why Cheney felt comfortable referencing them (even though he got their domain name wrong) in his debate against Edwards.

That said, they do good work and are worth reading. Just don't take their (or anyone's) word as final on every topic.

Posted by: Mathwiz on January 16, 2006 12:35 PM