Political Animal


November 12, 2011 10:15 AM Crossroads ad gets pulled for inaccuracy

By Steve Benen

The public discourse would be better off if more television stations pulled political attack ads that mislead the public.

An ad by Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS was yanked from rotation on a Montana cable show because it made claims that the network deemed false.

Recently a number of ads by the well-funded conservative outfit have been declared misleading and false, but the spot targeting Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is apparently the first pulled from the air. The Associated Press reported that other outlets are still running the ad.

In it, Tester is accused of supporting an Environmental Protection Agency rule — a rule that was never in fact proposed — to regulate farm dust. But the vote that the ad cites actually had nothing to do with dust or the EPA; it was a procedural vote on a measure aimed at cracking down on China for manipulating currency.

Rove’s attack operation, in other words, put together yet another blatantly dishonest attack ad. Kudos to Cablevision’s Optimum cable service for dropping the spot.

Keep in mind, of course, that this latest example fits nicely into the larger pattern of dishonesty emanating from Crossroads GPS. Rove’s outfit was caught blatantly lying earlier this week in an ad that argues former President Bill Clinton disagrees with President Obama on tax policy (the opposite is true). Crossroads GPS was then caught pushing obviously bogus claims to smear Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts.

Two days later, Rove’s operation was also caught making demonstrably false claims about former Gov. Tim Kaine (D), running in a very competitive U.S. Senate race in Virginia.

And now a Montana network is pulling a fourth ad from Crossroads GPS because it makes claims that just aren’t true.

I’m starting to get the sense that Rove’s attack group has an honesty problem.

As Greg Sargent noted yesterday, “At risk of sounding terribly earnest, I’m going to continue to insist that it kind of matters that Crossroads GPS … is again blanketing airwaves across the country with millions of dollars in ads containing demonstrable falsehoods and distortions.”

Agreed. When one attack operation releases four ads in a week, and all four are proven to include obvious falsehoods, it’s not unreasonable to think Crossroads GPS is less an “advocacy organization” and more a group of professional liars.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • berttheclock on November 12, 2011 10:26 AM:

    Karl Rove and Jim DeMint - Two peas in the same Marketing pod - Both have marketing research backgrounds. Another is a RepuG lady congresswoman from Tennessee, whose name escapes me at the moment. She graduated from Mississippi State with a marketing degree and went into her own business outside of Nashville. She has used similar tactics.

    Yeah, I know, kind of a broad brush, but, there is a pattern with this type.

  • LL on November 12, 2011 10:43 AM:

    When one attack operation releases four ads in a week, and all four are proven to include obvious falsehoods, it’s not unreasonable to think Crossroads GPS is less an “advocacy organization” and more a group of professional liars.

    And this is surprising how? Rove runs it, the Kochs help fund it, along with other more shadowy wealthy totalitarians. What else would it be?

    The brazen-ness of the lying is perhaps a little disconcerting, but not even that should be surprising. The GOP has been cultivating a propaganda wing that specializes in brazen lying for decades now.

  • kevo on November 12, 2011 10:44 AM:

    Karl Rove - the Ogre of Modern American Politics! He sure looks the part, spews bile as the part demands, and resorts to crawling into slimy places to plan his next attack on decent society and civil discourse!

    Rove is the poster-child for political abuse. When it comes to equivocating, lying, and smearing, Karl is a serial abuser! If he isn't counting his lucky stars every night for not already being in the penitentiary, he needs to be!

    Hurray, Mr. Roberts, for your elegant Citizens' United decision! You've given new life to the Ogre! -Kevo

  • Kathryn on November 12, 2011 10:50 AM:

    @berttheclock is it Marsha Blackburn, just a guess, funny how r n typed together looks like bum, just a coincidence but not inaccurate when if comes to Marsha. What's a way to influence other media outfits to pull these lying ads, I've seen that hit job on Tim Kaine on MSNBC. I guess I'll pull up MSNBC to see if there is a link to advertising

  • c u n d gulag on November 12, 2011 10:58 AM:

    The only problem with this is, if every TV and radio station pulled ads that are outright lies, they'd all soon go broke.

    Rove's ads aren't the only ones.
    Buy gold from XXX and make a fortune - LIE!
    Buy silver from YYY and make a fortune - LIE!
    Buy a painted buffalo head nickel for $20 as an investment - LIE!
    Ask you Doctor of this 'quicker-pecker-upper' - with no side effects at all! Except, in tiny print - 4, or more, hour boners draining blood from other organs, nausea, dry mouth, bulging eyes, ringing in the ears, fainting, blindness, rectal itching, bloody stool, liver damage, kidney failure, and death.

    But these ads only separate fools from their money.

    Political ads are designed to elect people who'll help to separate fools from their money.

    And the rest of us non-fools, too!

  • jcricket on November 12, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Bush's Brain is a pathological liar. What a shock.

  • Montana on November 12, 2011 11:25 AM:

    Now that Tester knows that it doesn't matter how he votes -- that Rove et al. will make accusations against him regardless of the facts -- maybe he'll stop voting with the Republicans and vote to get America back to work.

  • chopin on November 12, 2011 11:47 AM:

    Now would be a good time for a counter-ad that explicitly states that Carl Rove and his organization and groupies are liars.

  • zandru on November 12, 2011 12:30 PM:

    Now Would be the Time...

    ... to contact your local or cable Teevie stations that run this ad. Detail why it's flat out false. Tell them that you demand they stop running it. Send a copy of your letter to the FCC, with the request that they pull the broadcasting license of said station if it continues to knowingly air false claims like this.

    Write your local papers, if any. Your cable/dish company. Your Congressmen, even if they're Republican. Particularly if they're Republican.

    Make a stink! That's the way to get heard.

    Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the Democrats be forced to pay for ads to attempt to counteract these lies. If they make ads - and they should - air time needs to be provided FREE, or reimbursed by XXX-Roads GOP.

  • emjayay on November 12, 2011 12:42 PM:

    OK, I know all about free speech and the marketplace of ideas and "puffery" in advertising and all that. But it seems like there should be some sort of legal mechanism to counter or better yet prevent flat out lying, particularly when it involves choosing our governmental leaders and representatives, and particularly when it's on the teevee.

    I guess the real hard core big time lying campaign we are all familiar with was the Viet Nam Veterans for Truth campaign, which was probably responsible for Kerry's loss (crappy campaign notwithstanding) and worse yet Bush's reelection. A guy who basically avoided serving was portrayed as a patriot while the guy who went to Viet Nam and was shot at and saved others was
    vilified as a lying traitor.

    Isn't there some possiblity of doing something better than collecting your own millions and saying don't listen to that crap, it's a lie?

  • exlibra on November 12, 2011 1:40 PM:

    Political calls are excluded from the "do not call" ban. I guess then it's not surprising that political ads are excluded from the "truth in advertising" rules, too.

  • berttheclock on November 12, 2011 1:57 PM:

    Yes, Kathryn, and thanks. She is Marsha Blackburn.

  • PTate in MN on November 12, 2011 3:15 PM:

    "it's not unreasonable to think Crossroads GPS is less an "advocacy organization" and more a group of professional liars."

    This applies not only to Crossroads GPS but to the entire Republican party right now. They've figured out that if you lie (and no one will stop you) you can confuse the American voter. Voters won't know what to believe, and they'll 1) swallow the lie, or 2) turn away from your target just in case the lie is true, or 3) they'll just stop believing in the institutions of self-government. In all of these responses, the liars win.

    I wish we could run advocacy ads to help Americans recognize that Crossroads GPS cannot be trusted, ever. Even the slow learners can learn the heuristic, never trust Republicans.

  • mickeywhite on November 12, 2011 9:54 PM:

    Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR:
    Omnibus Appropriations, Special Education, Global AIDS Initiative, Job Training, Unemployment Benefits, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, Agriculture Appropriations, FY2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations, U.S.-Singapore Trade, U.S.-Chile Trade, Supplemental Spending for Iraq & Afghanistan, Flood Insurance Reauthorization , Prescription Drug Benefit, Child Nutrition Programs, Surface Transportation, Job Training and Worker Services, Agriculture Appropriations, Foreign Aid, Debt Limit Increase, Fiscal 2005 Omnibus Appropriations, Vocational/Technical Training, Supplemental Appropriations, UN �Reforms.� Patriot Act Reauthorization, CAFTA, Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations, Head Start Funding, Line-item Rescission, Oman Trade Agreement, Military Tribunals, Electronic Surveillance, Head Start Funding, COPS Funding, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes �Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Peru Free Trade Agreement, Economic Stimulus, Farm Bill (Veto Override), Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening, Patriot Act extension., Supplemental Appropriations, Patriot Act Extension.

    Marsha Blackburn Voted AGAINST:
    Ban on UN Contributions, eliminate Millennium Challenge Account, WTO Withdrawal, UN Dues Decrease, Defunding the NAIS, Iran Military Operations defunding Iraq Troop Withdrawal, congress authorization of Iran Military Operations, Withdrawing U.S. Soldiers from Afghanistan, Libya Troop Withdrawal.

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her �blatantly unconstitutional� votes at :

  • Crissa on November 13, 2011 1:26 AM:

    You ever want to make a comment just to enter in the Captcha? "ethicus curopea"

    I hope TV stations that get offers for ads like this get to keep the money paid if they prove the ad was misleading!

  • treetop on November 13, 2011 1:27 PM:

    Since when is "earnest" a pejorative? Yesterday, I read "Dowd was liberal, but never earnest or doctrinaire." And today, "As Greg Sargent noted yesterday, 'At risk of sounding terribly earnest . . . .'"