The Truth And Lies In The Ad Wars

On the campaign trail, the facts took a beating this week - especially in some claims both campaigns are making in their advertising. We thought it was time for CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews to do a Reality Check.

John McCain, appearing on ABC's "The View," was defending Sarah Palin as an anti-earmark crusader, but in the process made two glaring mistakes.

"Well, first of all, earmark spending, which she vetoed a half a billion dollars worth in state of Alaska," McCain said Friday.

The facts are Sarah Palin did veto half a billion dollars, but in state spending - not earmarks. A fact that led to this follow up.

"She also took some earmarks," Barbara Walters said.

"A lot," Joy Behar added.

"No, not as governor she didn't," McCain responded.

Wrong again.

The facts are Sarah Palin as governor has requested $453 million in earmarks.

In general, the facts took a beating in the first campaign week after the conventions. In this week's advertising, McCain went relentlessly negative - in some case resorting to falsehood.

In one ad, McCain implied that Barack Obama called Sarah Palin a pig.

That was false. Obama was talking about McCain's platform.

The latest McCain ad says the Obama camp insulted Sarah Palin's looks - a clear distortion.

The fact is, last week Sen Biden described Palin as good looking - compared to him.

And these ads about pigs and insults are from a candidate who promised to avoid going negative.

"It's very important we focus on issues and challenges we face today," McCain had previously said.

Obama - who also promised a positive campaign - was also loose with the facts in an attack ad, in which Obama claimed McCain repeatedly cut funding for schools.

The facts are: McCain voted three times to increase education spending, and that "taking away" claim is a distortion.

"What he wants to do is to freeze discretionary spending in the government," said Viveca Novak of "But it's not a cut from previous years."

According to the nonpartisan it was a very bad week for the issues.

"The ads we are seeing this week in particular have been, in tone, as low as we ever seen," Novak said.

McCain has been the aggressor in this slide to negativity and it's putting pressure on Obama to respond. Either way, this is not the elevated discussion both candidates promised to deliver.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.