Tip of the hat to the Progressive 11th Blog for finding this Adwatch review of a Pombo campaign ad. Turns out to be another ESA lie from Pombo. Last week, it was about a mythic Elderberry bush that blocked levee repairs causing a flood that killed three people. That proved to be a Pombo fantasy. Now it is about a small bird, the California Gnatcatcher, stopping the mighty U.S. Marines from properly training for combat. (The gnatcatcher lives in coastal scrub from southern California down into Baja and is listed as threatened due to loss of habitat along the coast.)
You would have to be pretty naive to believe anything Pombo says on endangered species, or the environment in general, for that matter. That's because he is not aiming for the truth; his goal is to raise a furor of righteousness about the ESA. Pombo carefully composes these messages based on distortions, half-truths, and outright lies with the main purpose of riling up his base and promoting his extreme far-right "property rights" agenda. Unfortunately, his hard-core believers take this junk as gospel. They are not ones to let facts get in the way of a good story, which Matt has pointed out is a saying from Pombo's grandmother.
From AdWatch on the latest Pombo campaign ad: Incumbent Seeking Re-Election To House
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- In this Adwatch, the focus is on an ad by Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy, who is running for re-election in next month's primary. The ad claims Pombo saved lives of U.S. Marines by taking a stand on the gnatcatcher.
To find out if that was true, KCRA 3 took a closer look.
The ad was shown to three local experts who were asked to grade it on how truthful it is, how relevant it is to the issues about which voters care, how much substance and real information the ad contains -- as opposed to fluff and image -- and how likely it is to be effective with voters at this point in the campaign.
Barbara O'Connor is a public communications professor at Sacramento State University. Steve Swatt is a political analyst and former political reporter. Bob Waste teaches public policy at Sacramento State University.
The ad begins with a dire claim about the Marine Corps' combat training grounds at Camp Pendleton in southern California. The ad states, "When bureaucrats were closing 57 percent of Camp Pendleton because of the gnatcatcher, the Marine Corps testified that training would be seriously compromised."
KCRA 3's adwatchers said the first question many viewers will probably asked is, "Because of what?"
The gnatcatcher is a tiny bird that lives in the sage brush of Southern California. The federal government has labeled the bird as threatened.
In the late 1990s, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service considered declaring parts of Camp Pendleton as critical habitat for the gnatcatcher. But KCRA 3's adwatchers have a problem with how this describes that move as "closing" parts of the base.
Swatt said the government's effort does not mean that part of the base was actually closed. It just meant that the military has to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding efforts to protect the gnatcatcher.
So for truthfulness, this ad gets a C-.
Next, adwatchers looked at how relevant the ad was to issues voters care about. Waste said the ad is relevant because voters care about war preparedness. For relevance, the ad receive a grade of B.
Next, adwatchers looked at substance. O'Connor said the ad gives the illusion of substance, complete with flip charts and somebody giving a briefing.
At this point, the adwatchers focused on the ad's claim that Pombo supposedly solved the gnatcatcher issue. Pombo claims to have kept the training grounds open and that the move saved the lives of troops.
In 2003, Pombo wrote legislation exempting all military bases from critical habitat designations. But according to documents, three year's before Pombo's legislation the Fish and Wildlife Service already decided to exclude Camp Pendleton from this critical habitat decision.
So, the adwatchers said the scene in the ad of Camp Pendleton Marines being told they couldn't train because of the gnatcatcher could never have happened.
Waste said the ad is a substantial misrepresentation by a member of Congress who should know better.
For substance, the ad got a grade of C.
On the issue of effectiveness, ad watchers said playing on voters' sense of patriotism will tap into their emotions. For effectiveness, this earned the ad a grade of B+.
In summary, here are the ratings: