Context? Who Cares About Context?

The Gordon Smith campaign is out with another TV spot ripping Jeff Merkley as a tax-and-spend liberal. In this one, we actually see Merkley saying:

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The Gordon Smith campaign is out with another TV spot ripping Jeff Merkley as a tax-and-spend liberal. In this one, we actually see Merkley saying: "I advocate for tax hikes every night in living rooms across Oregon."


As is so often the case with political ads, though, there's more - or less - to this one than meets the eye.

As Oregonian blogger Jeff Mapes astutely points out, the use of that snippet is "a pretty clever case of selective editing." Merkley spoke the words during an April 15 debate sponsored by The Oregonian and KGW-TV. Here's the quote in context:

Question: " ... If you are elected to the Congress or the Senate on what occasion would you feel comfortable advocating for any kind of tax hike? And in doing so if you do that tonight do you worry that you are going to give Gordon Smith and the Republicans ammunition against you in the general?"

Merkley: "You know I advocate for tax hikes every night in living rooms across Oregon because we have to close the tax loopholes that were torn in our national treasury over the past eight years. In fact during this decade, the General Accounting Office anticipated a $5 trillion surplus, and now instead we are running trillions of dollars short. Part of it is the war in Iraq. But a lot of it is the loopholes that were torn in the national treasury for the wealthiest Americans, and indeed for the special interest corporations. We need to close those loopholes in order to be able to restore our national treasury, to take on global warming, to take on education and to take on national health care."

Props to Mapes for doing some digging and uncovering this distortion, but unfortunately it's a lot easier to spread misinformation than to correct it afterwards. As Winston Churchill said, "A lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its pants on."

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