Poor Sarah Palin

The McCain camp puts out an ad decrying "completely false" and "misleading" attacks against Palin, but it's the ad itself that's badly misleading.

Published September 10, 2008 7:40PM (EDT)

With the fake outrage ginned up by Barack Obama's now-infamous "lipstick on a pig" comment showing no signs of dying down, John McCain's campaign is pressing its advantage hard, and continuing to portray Sarah Palin as a helpless victim. The McCain camp has now released an ad, ironically titled "Fact Check," pressing that theme.

"The attacks on Governor Palin have been called 'completely false' ... 'misleading," a narrator says at the start of the ad. "And they've just begun. The Journal reports Obama 'air-dropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers' into Alaska to dig dirt on Governor Palin. As Obama drops in the polls, he'll try to destroy her. Obama's 'politics of hope'? Empty words."

As I said, the ad's title, "Fact Check," is ironic, since the ad itself is, from that very first sentence, misleading. The attacks that were called "completely false" and "misleading" weren't coming from the Obama campaign. Indeed, the source cited by the McCain camp, FactCheck.org, has now put up a new item in which it says:

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 ad strives to convey the message that FactCheck.org said "completely false" attacks on 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 ... 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.

Then there's the claim about the "mini-army" of Democratic oppo researchers sent to Alaska. If that story were true, you might wonder: So? Who doesn't use opposition research? But, unsurprisingly, even this claim seems to be untrue. The only source is Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, who made the claim based on blind sources. Fund's report has been denied by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and no independent sources have stepped forward to verify it.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz. Sarah Palin