BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The Club for Growth PAC has released a political attack ad in Ohio's 5th Congressional District that displays a faked front page of the state's largest newspaper, The Plain Dealer. The bogus Plain Dealer is visible at the beginning of the 30-second spot that criticizes State Rep. Bob Latta as a tax-and-spend Republican. The ad was created to generate support for State Sen. Steve Buehrer, and is running on cable and broadcast outlets in OH-05.
[UPDATE: 2:58 pm EDT -- There was a story in the newspaper under the headline "Taft OKs tax increase, largest budget in Ohio history," but it was not on the front page as the Club for Growth asserts in its attack ad. The story written by Julie Carr Smyth and Stephen Ohlemacher, who are now both with the Associated Press, then with the paper's bureau in Columbus. It ran on Jun 27, 2003 and was on page B-4, which means it was buried in the metro section and nowhere near the front page. It was 592 words long and mentioned that Taft used his line item veto several times on the bill.]
Ironically, the Club for Growth says the ad "sets the record straight" about Buehrer's conservative economic principles. But some might say it seems disreputable, underhanded or even dishonest to present a non-existent newspaper page as proof in an attack ad. The tactic smacks of a political dirty trick.
By the way, The Plain Dealer page that that appears in the ad has plenty of clues that give it away as a phony. It doesn't have a date. It has a generic picture of the Ohio Statehouse. It uses the wrong style headline typeface. And it does not have the correct column format. The clues might not be instant giveaways in Northwest Ohio -- where OH-O5 is located -- because The Plain Dealer does not circulate in that portion of Ohio and people are not familiar with how the newspaper really looks.
There are real versions of front pages from Cleveland at this Web portal. The Club for Growth issued a press release accompanying the attack ad that says Latta "wasted no time twisting the truth." Pat Toomey, the Club for Growth's president, went on to say:
"It is sad to see Bob Latta distort the facts in order to paint himself a 'rock solid conservative' when in fact he supported tax and spending increases. The Club for Growth PAC ad will inform voters of the truth about Bob Latta's record."
Apparently, it has done some distorting of its own by creating a phony newspaper page.