A new hard-hitting TV ad (above) from the campaign of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett repeats his charge that Democrat Tom Wolf is lying about the governor’s record, but ads a new twist, essentially saying that the state’s media agree Wolf is a fibber.
Do they? Not really.
At issue is Wolf’s claim that Corbett cut education funding by a billion dollars.
“Tom Wolf’s big lie about education funding has now been exposed,” an announcer says in the ad. “In Pittsburgh, they called Wolf’s education ad a blatant lie. In Philadelphia, they confirmed Tom Corbett has increased state funding for education.”
The ad says that even Wolf’s hometown newspaper, the York Daily Record “said Tom Corbett gave more for schools with no tax increase.”
Looking at the record
Of the four sources the ad cites, two are quoted accurately and in context. One is a blog post from the conservative Commonwealth Foundation. The other is an opinion piece from Colin McNickle, director of editorial pages for the generally conservative Trib Live.
Information the ad cites from two mainstream newspaper articles doesn’t accurately capture the meaning of the pieces themselves.
The ad’s assertion that Philadelphia Inquirer confirmed Corbett increased basic education funding cites a piece by the paper’s political writer Tom Fitzgerald, who writes that Wolf and Corbett both can find support for their claims in the many different measures of school funding.
The claim that Wolf’s hometown paper in York found that Corbett gave more for schools with no tax increase is based on an account of Corbett’s budget address to the legislature in February.
In fact, the story attributes those conclusions to the Corbett team, saying it’s a budget proposal “that his administration says will increase the state investment in education, economic development and access to health care — without raising taxes.”
The piece then raises some questions about the fiscal assumptions in the budget.
I reached Fitzgerald, who said the Corbett campaign was “taking snippets of things in the public record to use in ads.”
“It’s what they do — both sides, every side, all sides, and it’s rarely the whole story,” Fitzgerald said. “Anything you write can be used in a political ad at any time when you’re covering this business. But getting outraged about it is pointless because it’s fair use and it goes on all the time.”
You can read the Corbett campaign’s statement, script and source material for the ad here.