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Friday, October 24, 2008
'Reality Check' Unreality: MRC Obfuscates McCain Ad Criticism
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 23 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes claims that "from the end of the primaries (June 4) through October 21 ... the networks aired nearly three times as many stories criticizing McCain's ads (84) as hitting Obama's (32)." But by including statistics from as far back as June, Noyes hides the fact that McCain's advertising has been much more negative in recent weeks than Obama's.

Noyes wrote:

Apart from complaints about the accuracy of campaign ads, network reporters often disdained the negative tone of ads. Again, McCain was on the receiving end of nearly three times as many stories scolding his supposed negativity (66) as Obama (26). But according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project's review of ads from June 4 to October 4, and taking into account ads that include both positive and negative messages, "the tone of the McCain and Obama campaigns has been absolutely identical."

But the WAP report Noyes cited also stated: 

Analysis from the Wisconsin Advertising Project of Sen. John McCain’s advertising for the week of September 28 to October 4 shows, in fact, that all McCain campaign advertising did have significant negative content – either spots that were comprised completely of attacks on the Democratic nominee or ones that combined attacks on Sen. Barack Obama with some talk about Sen. McCain’s own plans.

Further, Noyes offers no breakdown of when in the time period examined those stories were aired. But as the WAP demonstrates, McCain has been more harshly negative than Obama in recent weeks, so it can be assumed that most of the coverage of McCain's negative advertising also happened in recent weeks, not in June as Noyes implies. Thus, Noyes distorts reality by falsely portraying McCain's and Obama's ads as equally negative throughout the entire campaign.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:49 AM EDT

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