'Michigan Truth Squad' Breaks Down Political Ads 9-28-2010 - WNEM TV 5

'Michigan Truth Squad' Breaks Down Political Ads 9-28-2010

SAGINAW, Mich. -- Political ads. How do you really know when politician are really telling the truth?
Well, now there's a group to clear up the confusion. The Michigan Truth Squad is a nonpartisan political ad watchdog website sponsored by The Center for Michigan.
The group asks people to help identify questionable claims in the political advertisements by reporting them on its website.
If a tip exposes an exaggeration, misinformation, an outright lie, or a distortion, the group will call “fouls” on ads and candidates, just as referees call fouls in basketball.
The collection of writers and researchers will then ranking them from worse to the most truthful. The group's website breaks it down as the following:
Flagrant foul:
A statement that distorts or incorrectly states a fact involving an individual. It’s one thing to point out differences between candidate’s records. It’s another for a candidate to attack an opponent with false information or to inaccurately present his or her own political record.
Technical foul: A statement that implies something that isn’t quite true and deserves additional explanation, or that is entirely false.
Regular foul: A statement that distorts or incorrectly states a fact involving policy. We’ll provide the sources for our assessments, and let you decide whether we’re making the right call.
Warning: A statement that could easily be misconstrued, but is generally truthful.
No foul: Not every tough political ad is a foul. Sometimes the Truth Squad will review an ad and find that it is, indeed, totally accurate, even if it is not nice. We’ll keep tabs on each politician, and we’ll make sure you know how many fouls, if any, are called on each.
Officials said the Truth Squad website has received more than 70,000 page views.
Here are two examples of foul calls from the Truth Squad:

Who: Michigan Republican Party
  • Featured campaign material: “Bernero’s Bank”
  • Truth Squad Call: Technical Foul

Who: Michigan Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
  • Featured Campaign Material: Anti-Dan Benishek TV Ad
  • Truth Squad Call: Foul for implying that people would lose 40 percent of their Social Security benefits if part of the program was privatized..

The group said it hopes people will find the information they post educational, fun and useful.
Watch WNEM TV5 News at 5 p.m. for a full report.
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