TRUTH TEST: New Nolan Ad Gets an F
The 8th District Congressional race is taking a strange, yet predictable turn. The DFL Party and the Rick Nolan for Congress campaign both have TV ads on the air claiming Republican incumbent Chip Cravaack doesn't even live in Minnesota.
They've decided to resurrect that allegation that was first raised last year when Cravaack announced his wife and kids were moving to New Hampshire where his wife took a new job. However, Cravaack still owns a home in North Branch in the southern half of the 8th District and lists that as his primary residence. He splits time between Minnesota, Washington, DC and New Hampshire. A Duluth News Tribune story earlier this year found that an inspection of Cravaack's official schedule showed he spent the vast majority of his time in Minnesota and Washington.
A Duluth TV station, WDIO-TV, pulled the DFL ad from the air after a formal complaint from the Cravaack campaign claimed the ad was "misleading" and "defamatory." In that ad, a steelworker is shown saying of Cravaack, "He doesn't even live in Minnesota anymore."
In the Nolan ad, it's the candidate himself who complains of a "smear" campaign by Cravaack. Nolan is shown in the cab of his pick-up truck saying of Cravaack, "That's just not the Minnesota way. But maybe he doesn't know that because he's not from here and he doesn't live here anymore."
In our Truth Test, we examined that claim by Nolan and gave the ad an "F" on our grading scale. Steven Schier, a Carleton College political science professor, says it's unusual to show a candidate saying something like that. "One of the candidates, into the camera, says something that is obviously factually incorrect," says Schier. "I've never seen that before. It's extraordinary and a real problem for the Nolan campaign."
Neither the DFL Party or the Nolan campaign have offered documentation to prove Cravaack doesn't live in Minnesota. Michael Misterek of the Nolan for Congress campaign stands by the ad. He says the ad "highlights several clear differences betweeen the candidates." He goes onto say that Cravaack questioned former Congressman Jim Oberstar's residency in the 2010 campaign. "It seems hypocritical that the congressman now thinks he can have it both ways on the residency issue," Misterek said in an e-mail to 5 Eyewitness News.
To read the letter the Cravaack campaign sent Duluth station, WDIO click here.
HOW TRUTH TESTS ARE GRADED:
At the end of every "Truth Test," 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.COM assign the tested political ad a grade. Here's the criteria we use to determine that grade.
An "A" requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.
- A "B" requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations and misleading information.
- A "C" can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads and gives the viewer no context.
- A "D" is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.
- An "F" is the result of more than half the information being outright false as well as misleading and out of context.