A rare consequence for lying

A RARE CONSEQUENCE FOR LYING…. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) this week launched a new attack ad, going after freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) for his vote to combat global warming last week. Perriello eked out a very narrow win last November in GOP-leaning district, and Republicans hope early attacks like these will weaken him in advance of next year’s midterms.

The problem, of course, is that the NRCC’s ad is strikingly dishonest. Political advertising, almost as a rule, takes some liberties, but the NRCC ad is almost comical in its mendacity. By any reasonable measure, Republicans decided to lie to the public, in the hopes that voters wouldn’t know the difference.

To its credit, a local television station has decided not to air the deceptive ad.

Congressional Republicans were dealt a setback Thursday in their attempt to punish Democrats in swing districts for voting for climate change legislation in the House last week.

WDBJ-TV, a Roanoke television station, will not air a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) ad attacking freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), citing factual inaccuracies, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee communications director Jen Crider. A source familiar with the station’s decision confirmed Crider’s account; WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks confirmed that the ad would not run, but declined to say why.

Marks would only say that the station “looked into the complaints” about the ad’s obvious lies, and decided to pull it from the air.

Good for WDBJ. I can appreciate why individual stations would be reluctant to start scrutinizing advertising content, but outfits like the NRCC exploit that reluctance. Indeed, the campaign committee counts on this dynamic to get blatantly dishonest ads in front of the public.

There are rarely consequences for lying in political commercials. This is a partial victory for reality — “partial” because other local stations are still airing the ad — but under the circumstances, it’s nevertheless encouraging.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.