THE BLOG
10/06/2010 06:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Does the Predictable Ad Game Fascinate Journalists So Much?

The Spot Blog's Spotted Correspondent writes today that a new Sen. Michael Bennet ad is "unfairly misleading in its portrayal" of Ken Buck.

His proof? A column by the nonpartisan GOP stalwart Vincent Carroll, a Post columnist.

He then points to fact checkers that found portions of a previous Bennet ad "wanting," without mentioning that the fact checkers found numerous portions of Bennet's previous ads to be true.

And the Spot doesn't mention that fact checkers have been critical of Ken Buck's ad too, as well as ads by outfits like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which support Buck.

This is how News 4 introduced its "Reality Check" of a recent attack ad by Ken Buck:

"Ken Buck promised to stay positive this election. That sure didn't last long."

In response to Buck's claim that "Bennet's votes are so bad he can't defend them," News 4 found that Bennet in fact "does defend his votes on the health care, the stimulus, and the budget."

"As for [Buck's] claim he voted for higher taxes 24 times, that's misleading at best," News 4 reported, adding that Bennet has "never voted for a measure that would specifically raise taxes."

With respect to Buck's claim that "Bennet is legislating unemployment," News 4's Reality Check stated that Bennet "did not, of course, pass a law to set the unemployment rate."

"Bottom line," News4 states, "Ken Buck is doing what Republicans across the country are trying to do, pin the country's economic woes on their Democratic counterparts. As I've said here before, there's plenty of blame to go around."

Last night, 9 News analyzed a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad stating that:

"Bennet even raised taxes $525 billion. A jobs killer."

9 News found this...false!

"Further, Bennet has not voted on a single measure that would have directly raised taxes or directly raised the tax rate. In fact, numerous economists, both conservative and liberal, have stated publicly that Americans are paying lower taxes this year than they did last year and not simply because they're earning less as a result of the recession. (Source: Associated Press, April 14"

9 News also researched this statement in a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad:

"He [Bennet] voted to gut Medicare. ($500 billion)

9 News found this ... false!

"If anything, seniors who are on basic Medicare will now have more access to preventive services and eight million will also be spared significant prescription drug costs if they fell into the so-called doughnut hole created by Medicare Part D. (Source: New York Times, June 18"

The Spotted Correspondent, like everyone else who watches TV, has got to know that portions of most all political ads are found to be misleading or false by fact checkers. I wish that weren't the case, but it is.

The Spotted Correspondent and I would undoubtedly prefer to watch ads by fact checkers not political campaigns. But that won't be happening.

So journalists, and commentators like the Spotted Correspondent, are left to sort out the key issues, whether they are in the ads or not, and try to make sense of them for voters.

Accusing one side's ads of being insulting, as if the other side's aren't--when we all know the entire ad game is gross--misleads voters into thinking the ads matter more than the issues at hand.

In other words, we'll get more from comparing the candidates' positions on the issues than comparing their ads.