Rove Touts His Super PAC's Record While Fact-Checkers Disagree

››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Fox News contributor Karl Rove touted the campaign ads issued by his Crossroads GPS super PAC, claiming they are "highlighting the shortcomings" of President Obama's policies. But Rove groups have a history of issuing ads and statements that have been deemed dishonest or outright false by independent fact checkers.

Fox's Rove Claims His Super PAC's Ads Are "Highlighting The Shortcomings Of [Obama's] Policies"

Rove: "Mr. Obama Didn't Count On" Crossroads GPS "Highlighting The Shortcomings Of His Policies." In a June 20 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove claimed that the Obama campaign planned to outspend the Romney campaign shortly after the major races in the GOP presidential primary ended. He followed by contending:

What Mr. Obama didn't count on is the ongoing aggressive policy debate with third-party groups highlighting the shortcomings of his policies. For example, Crossroads GPS (a group I helped organize) had $22 million of ads in May and June challenging the president's agenda while urging grass-roots support for its conservative "New Majority Agenda." [The Wall Street Journal, 6/20/12]

But Independent Fact Checkers Have Found Many Rove Ads To Be Misleading, Or Worse

Politifact Florida: Claim That Bill Clinton Attacked Buffet Rule And Barack Obama Is "False." In an October 10, 2011, post, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checking site Politifact, called a claim made by Rove's American Crossroads that former president Bill Clinton attacked the Buffet Rule and President Obama "false." Politifact pointed out that in the ad, Clinton's "words were cut in a way that would create a different impression" than he intended. The post continued:

The ad suggests that Clinton opposes Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy as a means of reducing the deficit. By our review of the interview, Clinton actually appeared to straddle that fence. At one point, he said that he didn't think the country should raise taxes "until we get this economy off the ground." At another point, he said he'd be "okay" with the tax and willing to pay it, though he said in his particular case, he probably won't be affected.

At the least, American Crossroads is guilty of cherry-picking parts of Clinton's statement to best fit into the narrative of its ad. But we think they go one step further by cutting out critical pieces of evidence -- namely that Clinton said he would be "okay" with higher taxes for the wealthy and that he'd pay additional taxes if he was required to.

Clinton's voice and image were no doubt selected specifically because it'd be a stinging rebuke of Obama's policies -- from a fellow Democrat.

But viewer beware. We rate this claim False. [Politifact Florida, 10/10/11]

FactCheck.org: Crossroads GPS "Makes Some False And Exaggerated Claims" Related To Obama's Energy Policy. A March 22 FactCheck.org post found that Crossroads GPS used "some false and exaggerated claims" to accuse Obama of "bad energy policies" that caused energy "prices we can't afford." From the post:

Crossroads GPS is accusing the Obama administration of "bad energy policies" causing "prices we can't afford." But the Republican-leaning group makes some false and exaggerated claims.

[...]

So overall, are Obama's policies to blame for today's high gasoline prices? That's no more true today than it was in 2008, when Democrats blamed President George W. Bush for prices that briefly topped $4 a gallon, before they plunged during the 2008-2009 recession. The fact is that oil prices are set on world markets. And this time around, the reason prices are soaring is "mainly geopolitical," according to noted authority Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of several books on world oil markets. [FactCheck.org, 3/22/12]

Washington Post: American Crossroads' "Backward" Video "Earns Three Pinocchios For Its Misleading Claims about Price Increases Under Obama." A May 9 post on The Washington Post's Fact Checker analyzed an ad by American Crossroads, a nonprofit affiliated with Crossroads GPS, that blamed Obama for the rising cost of medical care, the rising cost of gas and the rate of inflation. The column concluded:

American Crossroads burned itself by suggesting that health care costs have risen too fast under Obama. The rate of growth is slower than during any administration since at least Carter. In this regard, the ad's premise is factually incorrect, because the president has moved the nation forward, not backward.

As for gas prices, they have indeed doubled since Obama took office, and the economy sat in a deep recession. But they still haven't reached the high that the nation experienced under the younger Bush.

In terms of inflation, the president's numbers are unexceptional no matter which way you look at them. The situation has improved in terms of the seasonally adjusted consumer price index less food and energy. And it's roughly on target for normal inflation when it comes to the American Crossroads measurement.

Overall, American Crossroads earns Three Pinocchios for its misleading claims about price increases under Obama. [The Washington Post, 5/9/12]

FactCheck.org: Crossroads GPS's Claim That Obama "Broke A Promise To Not Increase Taxes" For Middle Class Families Is "Almost Entirely False." In a May 17 post, FactCheck.org found the claim that Obama broke a promise not to increase taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year to be "almost entirely false." The post explained:

The truth is that Obama repeatedly cut taxes for such families, first through a tax credit in effect for 2009 and 2010, and beginning in 2011, through a reduction in the payroll tax that is worth $1,000 this year to workers earning $50,000 a year. And while it's true that some tax increases contained in the new health care law would fall on individuals, they have mostly not taken effect yet and are small compared with the cuts the president already enacted. And this ad exaggerates them greatly. [FactCheck.org, 5/17/12]

Washington Post: Crossroads GPS's Ad "Uses Some Of The Oldest Tricks In The Book" To Create A Misleading Impression. In a May 23 post to the Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler analyzed a Crossroads GPS ad and its claims regarding Obama's responsibility for the rising national debt. Kessler pointed out that the ad "use[d] some of the oldest tricks in the book," further finding that:

On the debt, the ad exaggerates Obama's impact on the rise of the debt, as it was not just spending but a decline in revenue that is responsible for the sharp rise in federal budget deficits. On health-care spending, the ad suggests that the new law was largely or mostly responsible, when in fact, according to one survey, it was only partially responsible.

The ad ends with the woman saying that the national debt needs to be reduced. ("Cutting taxes and debt, and creating jobs -- that's the change we need.") Ironically, the USA Today article cited by the ad mostly focuses on the fact that cutting health-care programs such as Medicare to reduce the debt could force health-care premiums even higher as health-care providers seek to recoup their lost funds. The lesson, dear voter, is: damned if you, damned if you don't. [The Washington Post, 5/23/12]

Washington Post: Crossroads GPS's "Stopwatch" Ad "Exaggerates Obama's Impact On The Rise Of...Debt." In a June 7 post on the Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler determined that a Crossroads GPS ad that attached spending it credited to Obama to the rising national debt "exaggerate[d] Obama's impact on the rise of the debt." Kessler gave the ad "2 Pinocchios" because:

[The] ad exaggerates Obama's impact on the rise of the debt, as it was not just spending, but a decline in revenue that is responsible for the sharp rise in federal budget deficits. Obama has proposed policies to help reduce the deficit -- which Crossroads opposes. That's their right, but it seems strange to suggest he has done nothing about it. [The Washington Post, 6/7/12]

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Karl Rove
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