Horton ad maker strikes again

In a new spot, Floyd Brown -- who produced the infamous Willie Horton ad -- attacks Barack Obama on religion.

Published June 11, 2008 3:43PM (EDT)

On Monday, I mentioned Floyd Brown's return to the spotlight. Brown, the producer of the infamous "Willie Horton" ad that hurt Michael Dukakis' chances for the presidency in 1988, is going after Barack Obama now, using his Web site, ExposeObama.com. Brown has already released one misleading ad this cycle, but he's got a new effort out now that -- in addition to being similarly misleading -- is just plain nasty.

The latest ad, which can be seen below, brings up some particularly scurrilous (and false) rumors about Obama's religion, specifically the suggestion that he's a Muslim, or was a Muslim. The ad's narrator says, "The Associated Press found records that showed Obama was in school as a Muslim living in Indonesia and the Obama campaign can't explain why." But as the Huffington Post's Sam Stein noted, the Obama camp says whoever listed Obama as a Muslim made a mistake, and besides, the school was Catholic. In a Washington Post article about these rumors earlier this year, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said, "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim. As a six-year-old in Catholic school, he studied the catechism." In the same article, Gibbs told the Post, "We will not be swift-boated. And we won't take allegations that are patently untrue lying down."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton declined to comment to Salon about the new ad, but in a statement about Brown's previous ad, he said, "Floyd Brown and the garbage he puts on TV represent everything the American people hate about politics, and we look forward to John McCain denouncing this shameful effort to boost his candidacy using Willie Horton ads."

Of course, even if McCain does denounce the effort, his work will have been done for him by these kinds of actions, and he'll then get the extra benefit of appearing above the fray. And this is undoubtedly just a sign of things to come; attacks like these will almost certainly increase in frequency as we get closer to November, and the truth will only be an afterthought to people like Brown.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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