Matt Lewis

Calling out Mitt Romney’s misleading ad

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

So Team Romney is now, apparently, bragging that their misleading TV ad “worked.” In case you missed it, the controversial ad includes a video of Barack Obama saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” The only problem is, Obama was taken out of context; he was actually quoting a McCain adviser from 2008.

Team Romney’s original spin was to say that — though the actual audio was perhaps out of context — the words, indeed, reflect Obama’s current predicament; if he talks about the economy, he loses. That may be true, but it appears to me that there are better ways to make that legitimate point than to include a misleading clip.

What is more, their current spin seems to simply be that it worked … that it got people to pay attention to the ad (as if that were all that mattered).

This strikes me as wrong for a variety of reasons. First, it’s unethical to knowingly produce an ad that intentionally misleads. Hard-hitting ads are fine; I don’t even have a problem with so-called “negative” ads. But misleading ads are simply wrong.

Second, it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of legitimate ways to attack Barack Obama. The notion that one needs to embellish or invent things is absurd. He is, in many ways, a failed president. That can be pointed out in a fair and honest way.

Lastly, while Team Romney’s plan may have “worked” in the short term, what about the long term damage to the credibility of the brand? Doesn’t this begin to diminish his ability to point out legitimate failings of the Obama Administration? And doesn’t this seem to reinforce some negative stereotypes some people already have about Mitt Romney?