As PolitiFact.com's Bill Adair writes today, "after fact-checking nearly 200 ads from around the country over the past few months, we feel like we could write the books ourselves."
According to Adair, "whether we're checking ads in Oregon or Wisconsin or Florida, we keep hearing the same lines about Social Security, Medicare and 'career politicians.' We also keep hearing a lot of ominous music and seeing a lot of grainy, unflattering photos of Nancy Pelosi."
He tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, "You get the impression that there's an assembly line somewhere where virtually identical ads are being made for many, many congressional races. ... An ad in Milwaukee sounds virtually identical to an ad in Austin or Portland. They're cookie cutters."
And many of them just aren't true. "They find the most extreme things; they find a kernel of truth and just exaggerate it to a ridiculous extent," Adair says.
What are some of the common, often exaggerated, claims?
— The charge from Democrats that Republicans want to "privatize Social Security." According to PolitiFact's reporters, Adair writes, "the tricky part this year is that Republicans have been careful with their words and have not fully supported a privatization plan. So we've rated many of these claims Barely True or Half True."
— My opponent is a "career politician!" According to PolitiFact, "the claim doesn't always fit because in some cases, the targets of the attacks actually have not been politicians for very long. Reid Ribble, the Wisconsin candidate in one of those clips, has actually not sought elected office before."
— Democrats are in favor of "cutting Medicare." PolitiFact's analysis: "The Republicans are referring to the Democrats' votes on the health care plan, which was largely paid for through cuts in future Medicare spending. But we've usually rated the Republican claims Barely True because the core benefits of Medicare are not being cut."
— "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!" In most ads, PolitiFact finds, Republicans charge their Democratic opponents with being responsible for tens or hundreds of thousands of job losses. "The ads usually get the numbers right, but we've typically rated these claims Half True because economists told us it's not completely accurate to blame one politician for a state's economic predicament."
— "Ants, a blueberry farm and Christmas." As Adair writes:
"Republicans love to point out government spending that they consider wasteful, so we've heard lots of attacks against Democrats for projects that sound frivolous. In some cases, such as the ants, the line is so good that it's been used against several different Democrats in different parts of the country. It's also been used in primaries against other Republicans.
"But we've found the claims are often exaggerated because the target of the attacks didn't actually vote for the ant study; they simply supported the $787 billion economic stimulus, which in turn included money for scientific research through various organizations, and one of them dedicated money to the ant study."