Following former Vice President Al Gore's May 26 speech (sponsored by MoveOn.org and delivered at New York University), conservative commentators echoed misleading statements released by the Republican National Committee (RNC).
In one "RNC Research Briefing," the RNC recycled an attack on MoveOn.org, stating, "Two Ads Comparing President Bush To Adolf Hitler Appeared On MoveOn.org Voter Fund Website," referring to ads that were submitted for a contest held by MoveOn.org. However, as the non-partisan Columbia Journalism Review's website The Campaign Desk noted in its "Distortion" column, while "at least one [ad] was posted briefly on the organization's website ... MoveOn quickly removed it and disassociated itself from the offending ads."
Barbara Comstock -- former director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft and former director of research and strategic planning at the RNC -- seems to have taken a cue from her former employer, writing in a May 27 National Review Online commentary, in reference to MoveOn.org executive director Eli Pariser, "His group has promoted ads comparing Bush to Hitler." Comstock also echoed another part of the RNC release that described MoveOn.org's call for peaceful anti-terrorism responses following the September 11 terrorist attacks, writing, "Gore's top speaking destination of choice not only opposes the war in Iraq, they opposed the war in Afghanistan, too. Just days after September 11, MoveOn.org put out a statement saying, 'We recognize that we are now in a world where indiscriminate military actions can make us less safe....'"
Rush Limbaugh took the RNC assertion about the ad one step further during his May 26 radio show, saying, "MoveOn.org, this is the wacko bunch that is doing ads equating Bush with Hitler." A May 27 article by David Horowitz (co-written by Ben Johnson and published in Horowitz's online FrontPage Magazine) contained similar comments: "Gore appeared before the MoveOn.org, a radical group which had already compared Bush to Hitler."
The Campaign Desk noted that on CNN's American Morning on May 27, Republican convention communications director Mark Pfeifle also repeated the "stunningly false" charge that MoveOn.org "has run ads that compare the president to Hitler."
The RNC statement goes on to make other assertions, including taking financier, philanthropist, and political activist George Soros to task for calling the September 11 attacks "spectacular," although although CIA and FBI officials have used the word "spectacular" in a similiar context. A July 2001 CIA briefing warned of Osama bin Laden's intentions to attack the United States: "The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests." Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, in his March 9 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned, "A spectacular attack on the U.S. homeland remains the brass ring many strive for with or without Al Qaeda leadership." And CNN reported on March 13 the comments of an FBI counterterrorism official who said, "I believe that we in the U.S. will be hit with another terrorist attack, whether it's a 'spectacular attack' like 9/11..."
The RNC release concluded with another attack on MoveOn.org: "New Ad Featured On MoveOn.org Website Accuses President Bush Of Using 'Funds From Foreign Governments To Finance The Killing Of Innocent Civilians' And Of Having 'Established Links With Known Terrorist Organizations.'" But, in fact, the ad is not new -- nor is it a MoveOn.org ad. It was one of the ads submitted to MoveOn.org's contest last December.