FactCheck.org To McCain Camp: Stop Distorting Our Work

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A McCain-Palin ad has FactCheck.org calling Obama's attacks on Palin "absolutely false" and "misleading." That's what we said, but it wasn't about Obama.

Our article criticized anonymous e-mail falsehoods and bogus claims about Palin posted around the Internet. We have no evidence that any of the claims we found to be false came from the Obama campaign.

The McCain-Palin ad also twists a quote from a Wall Street Journal columnist. He said the Obama camp had sent a team to Alaska to "dig into her record and background." The ad quotes the WSJ as saying the team was sent to "dig dirt."

Update, Sept. 10: Furthermore, the Obama campaign insists that no researchers have been sent to Alaska and that the Journal owes them a correction.
Analysis
We don't object to people reprinting our articles. In fact, our copyright policy encourages it. But we've also asked that "the editorial integrity of the article be preserved" and told those who use our items that "you should not edit the original in such a way as to alter the message."

With its latest ad, released Sept. 10, the McCain-Palin campaign has altered our message in a fashion we consider less than honest. The ad strives to convey the message that FactCheck.org said "completely false" attacks on Gov. Sarah Palin had come from Sen. Barack Obama. We said no such thing. We have yet to dispute any claim from the Obama campaign about Palin.

They call the ad "Fact Check." It says "the attacks on Gov. Palin have been called 'completely false' ... 'misleading.' " On screen is a still photo of a grim-faced Obama. Our words are accurately quoted, but they had nothing to do with Obama.

Our article, posted two days earlier, debunked a number of false or misleading claims that have circulated in chain e-mails and Internet postings regarding Palin. There is no evidence that the Obama campaign is behind any of the wild accusations that we critiqued. There is no more basis for attributing these viral attacks to the Obama campaign than there is for blaming the McCain campaign for chain e-mail attacks falsely claiming that Obama is a Muslim, or a "racist," or that he is proposing to tax water. The anti-Palin messages, like the anti-Obama messages, have every appearance of being home-grown.

Digging for "Dirt"

The ad also quotes the Wall Street Journal as saying that the Obama campaign "air-dropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers to dig dirt on Governor Palin." That's also a distortion. The Wall Street Journal opinion article did not say that the Obama team was there to "dig dirt." It said they were there do "dig into her record and background." Maybe the McCain-Palin campaign knows something we don't about what's in Palin's record and background.

The full quote, from an item by conservative columnist John Fund, dated Sept. 9:

WSJ's John Fund, Sept. 9: Democrats have airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into Anchorage, the state capital Juneau and Mrs. Palin's hometown of Wasilla to dig into her record and background. My sources report the first wave arrived in Anchorage less than 24 hours after John McCain selected her on August 29.

Fund said the opposition researchers were mainly interested in a controversy surrounding Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. Monegan has claimed he was dismissed because he wouldn't fire a state trooper who was in a divorce battle with Palin's sister; the Alaska Legislature is investigating whether Palin acted properly. Fund also stated that the Palin family has accused the trooper of "using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson, drinking in his patrol car and illegally shooting a moose."

Now, that's "dirt."

Update, Sept. 10: After this article was posted, the Obama campaign contacted us to say that John Fund's article is wrong.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, Sept. 10: John Fund's claim that we "air-dropped" 30 lawyers into Alaska is false. No one from the Obama campaign or the DNC has been sent to Alaska. We've asked Mr. Fund for a correction.

Footnote: At least one Obama spokesman has repeated an allegation that we debunked in our story, that Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan. However, the Obama campaign was not the originator of the claim.