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Shields and Brooks Weigh Facts, Fiction in Campaign Ads

Recent campaign ads have been criticized by political fact checkers for distorting facts and spreading falsities. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the debate over truthfulness on the campaign trail.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, where do you come down on the Obama charge that McCain is lying?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    About the ads themselves?

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes.

    Or that — yes, that — what Obama said. He accused — he used the word lying.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Lying.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    OK.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I think he was responding to a question.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes. Exactly. Right.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Judy is a lot more diplomatic and circumspect than I am. She said he was stretching the truth, or was guilty of stretching the truth.

    Every single fact-check organization, news organizations, these objectively looked at this and have come up with a conclusion it is misleading, false, factually inaccurate, the AP calls it. I just think it's…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    You're talking about the two…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I'm talking about the two ads that…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    The kindergarten.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … that John McCain defended on "The View."

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Right.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    The kindergarten ad is outrageous. That is warmed-over — that is a left over from Alan Keyes' campaign in 2004…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    He ran Obama in the Senate.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    … which was embarrassing at the time.

    It is a charge that Obama voted for, which he did, a bill in the Illinois state legislature that would — for age-appropriate sex education for youngsters taught to be — to warn them about adult sexual predators, and what they could do to avoid and to discourage and to resist those…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And the other one had to do with…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    … which we saw in the tape, yes.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yes, it was a total — just made up by the whole cloth that he — because he used an expression which John McCain had used, that everybody has used at different times, apparently trying to be folksy — you got a folksy audience, you want to be folksy — you know, that that was somehow a slam or a slur on Sarah Palin.

    I mean, what is ironic is, they want to turn Sarah Palin into a — into a victim, which is, I think, unbecoming to her, because she doesn't come across as a victim at all. But that's been obviously part of the campaign strategy.

    Just, finally, I would say this, Jim. John McCain said — and he meant it — that he would rather lose an election if it meant winning the war when he supported the surge. And, right now, I think that that the bargain he has made — and I hate to say this, because this — these are dishonorable acts. This makes — these are dishonest…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Dishonorable.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Dishonest and dishonorable. And that's not the kind of campaign that one expected from John McCain. It is certainly not John McCain's lifetime. And one hopes that he is not going to trade his self-respect for political victory, because I will tell you, it will be ashes if he does win that way. It will be ashes. There will be no chance of bipartisanship.

    You will think Bill Clinton had a rocky road in '93. It will be awful in 2009.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Tough words.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes.

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