Three days after CNN slammed the dishonest ad from the pro-Obama Priorities USA super PAC that blames Mitt Romney for a woman's cancer death, Friday's CBS This Morning finally got around to covering it. But correspondent Nancy Cordes downplayed the liberal group's spot by also targeting a Romney ad that was "panned" by unnamed fact checkers, and claimed that "other Romney ads have taken Mr. Obama's words out of context."
Cordes also dredged up the famous and entirely accurate anti-Michael Dukakis Willie Horton ad from 1988 as an example of negative ads being "a hallmark of presidential campaigns for decades."
Anchor Gayle King introduced the correspondent's report by noting that "in the presidential race, negative ads are getting new attention this morning. The campaigns and political super PACs are flooding the airwaves, and critics on both sides say the facts do not back up the charges. Nancy Cordes is at the White House to show us why it's getting so nasty on TV."
Cordes added that "the claims in some of these ads are so dubious that some leaders in both parties are getting a little uncomfortable. Even the President and Governor Romney have condemned some of the ads – at least the ads coming from the other side." She then played two clips from the Priorities USA spot featuring Joe Soptic, and added that "Republicans, and even some Democrats, call this ad a new low....What it failed to mention was that Joe Soptic's wife died five years after he lost his job, and had her own insurance for part of that time."
After playing a soundbite from Governor Romney attacking the ads from Obama campaign and its supporters, the CBS correspondent spotlighted not one, but two ads from the Republican candidate that are supposedly "dubious":
ROMNEY (from interview on Bill Bennett's "Morning In America" radio show): The various fact checkers look at some of these charges in their – in the Obama ads, and they say that they're wrong and inaccurate. And yet, he keeps on just running them.
CORDES: What Romney didn't say is that fact checkers also panned his latest ad, about the President's welfare policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER 1 (from Romney For President ad): Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work, and wouldn't have to train for a job.
CORDES: Other Romney ads have taken Mr. Obama's words out of context on issues ranging from small business to the weak economy.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from Romney For President ad): If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.
What Cordes failed to mention is that the one of the main source for the Romney welfare ad was the conservative Heritage Foundation. The think tank first slammed the HHS policy directive on July 12, 2012, and later released a legal analysis that determined the move was "in direct violation of federal law."
The correspondent played the clip from the Willie Horton ad later in the segment, and also played two soundbites from conservative pollster Frank Luntz, who underlined the general effectiveness of negative ads, but also singled out the most recent ads as somehow different:
CORDES: Negative ads have been a hallmark of presidential campaigns for decades-
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER 2 (from 1988 National Security PAC ad): Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty - he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison.
CORDES: Because polls show, they work. But conservative strategist Frank Luntz, who has conducted focus groups on the effectiveness of political ads, says this latest batch is different in one key way.
FRANK LUNTZ, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's one thing to be negative. It's another thing to demonize your opponent.
CORDES: And, he says, here's the reason why.
LUNTZ: Some of these ads are designed to get the base engaged and involved, because in the end, the undecided vote is so small that the goal is turnout.
CORDES (on-camera): It's so small, in fact, that some polls show that the level of undecideds in the electorate right now is smaller than five percent, and that's why these two sides are working so hard to turn out their base. And, keep this in mind, Gayle and Jeff [Glor]: we're looking at an election where more than a billion dollars could be spent on ads. And so, what you're starting to see: groups trying to go a little too far, just to try to stand out from all of the clutter.