PolitiFact Texas has gone prime time!
In Bill Flores' new TV ad in his bid for a U.S. House seat held by Chet Edwards of Waco, titled "Austin Paper" — that would be the Austin American-Statesman — "truth" plays prominently. The narrator starts off: "The Austin newspaper says Congressman Edwards' attacks on Bill Flores are false." Just in case viewers miss that declaration on first pass, the narrator continues: "Edwards is not telling the truth about Bill Flores."
Flores makes nearly the same claim in a radio ad posted on his website: "The Austin newspaper investigated Edwards' attack ads and found them to be false."
We didn't know we'd done that.
To date, Edwards has criticized Flores on a number of fronts, including his views on veterans health care, his voting record and his position on earmarks, most of which we haven't dug into.
In April, we rated an Edwards statement to be True — that Flores has never voted in a general election in the House district. In September, we gave a False rating to Edwards' claim that an oil company Flores "helped run laid off over 3,000 workers and then paid off its top executives with millions."
To our inquiry — what the hey? — Flores' campaign manager, Matt Mackowiak, counseled against being too picky about the wording of the ads. Mackowiak said Flores' ads don't say that every fact check we've done of Edwards returned a False rating.
Mackowiak also said the TV ad clearly refers only to our September item on Flores' employment history, pointing out that the video "has the date of the PolitiFact article." We checked out that detail. At the time that a narrator is evoking "the Austin newspaper," the screen shows the "Austin American-Statesman" nameplate, the PolitiFact url and a date: "September 26, 2010."
Oops: Our review of Edwards' statement appeared in print and online Sept. 15.
We informed Mackowiak of the date conflict. He later told us that the campaign had fixed the date and sent new copies of the ad to the outlets running the ads.
While the Flores campaign is changing the ad, we'd suggest a new line for the narrator: "The Austin newspaper also finds this message to be only Barely True."
Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.