Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Sorting out the truth in the campaign ad wars

A Romney ad about welfare reform earned a Pants on Fire.

We're in the dog days of summer, but you wouldn't know it from the relentless back and forth of TV ads from the campaigns of Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

The parties haven't even held their conventions, but the airwaves are filled with ominous-sounding narrators and grainy, unflattering photos of political foes.

It's keeping the Truth-O-Meter busy! Here's a round-up of our recent ad checks, part of our Message Machine partnership with NPR:

Is Obama gutting welfare reform? That's the claim in a new Mitt Romney ad, which says "Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." We found that was an extreme distortion of an Obama administration memo and rated it Pants on Fire.

Mitt Romney, busting the budget? An Obama ad contends that Romney would add "trillions" to the deficit while Obama's plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion. We found Obama was stretching the projections for his plan and that data about Romney's plan was not definitive. Half True.

Obama and Israel. Romney earned a True for his claim that Obama has not visited Israel since he's been president and a Half True for his claim that Obama refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Romney and contraception. An Obama ad said Romney opposes requiring employers to cover contraception and would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. We found that's an accurate summary of Romney's statements and rated it True.

Jobless in the city. A Romney ad says, "In June, jobless ranks were higher in nearly 90 percent of U.S. cities." We found Romney was doing some extreme cherry-picking with numbers that were skewed by college graduates. Mostly False.

More and more! We've done dozens of other fact-checks on campaign ads. Find them all on our PolitiFact/NPR Message Machine page.