Daily Video

September 15, 2008

Political Ads: Lies and Exaggerations, How the Campaigns Are Responding

New ads are the focus of a heated debate over how negative the race for the presidency will get and whether candidates are stretching the truth or lying about each other’s records.

McCain’s ads saying the Obama supported a law to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners crossed then line, according to fact checking journalists.

While the McCain ads have come under the most criticism, Republicans point out that an Obama ad stating the McCain tax plan would do nothing for the middle class isn’t true.

This video also has clips from Sarah Palin’s first interview on ABC news, and McCain’s appearance on the View, where he defended his ads against a panel of angry questioners, saying “this is a tough campaign.”


“For those of us that have given you our support and, more importantly, our money, when and how are you going to start fighting back against attack ads and the smear campaign?” – Obama supporter at a campaign stop

“We have been hitting back hard, but we’re hitting back on the issues that matter to families. We’re hitting back — I’m not going to — I’m not going to start making up lies about John McCain.” – Barack Obama

“Actually, they are not lies. And have you have seen some of the ads that are running against me?” – John McCain

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a political ad? How are they different from other ads?

2. How can you tell if an ad is misleading?

3. What is the difference between an exaggeration and a lie?

Discussion Questions

1. What is your reaction to the ads in this report?

2. Do you think this is just politics? Do you think the system needs to be changed?

3. Following this report, two analysts looked at how the campaigns are changing to respond to the harsh tone. Then NewsHour political analysts David Brooks and Mark Shields debate whether the McCain campaign, as well as the Obama campaign, are stretching the truth or lying. What do you think?

4. If the public says it doesn’t want negative ads, why do campaigns continue to run them?

Additional Resources

Transcript of this report

Analysis of how the campaigns are responding

Shields and Brooks debate whether recent ads are “dishonorable”

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