The Fremont Tribune has condemned the use of their reporting by Nebraska Republican Senate candidate Shane Osborn. “It’s disturbing to see our publication used in some of the negative political advertising that pops up every election cycle,” the paper writes of Osborn’s ads misquoting opponent Ben Sasse’s opposition to Obamacare.
In a post titled “In Producing Attack Ads, Don’t Take Us out of Context,” the staff of the Tribune lament their appearance in an advertisement produced by the Osborn campaign, in which Osborn quotes Sasse as saying that the Affordable Care Act was “an important first step” in reforming the health care system. This, the Tribune argues, is a clear mischaracterization of Sasse’s comments to anyone who reads the full article: “those who read the full paragraph will realize Mr. Sasse is talking about the discussion the bill brought about as being an important first step in addressing the nation’s health care crisis.” The paper adds that Sasse “was clear then – as he is now – that the Affordable Care Act is a bad piece of legislation.”
In the ad in question, Osborn notes only the phrase “an important first step,” and later quotes Sasse as saying that Republicans would not repeal Obamacare. That ad, which National Review’s Rich Lowry describes as “almost a parody of negative advertising,” below:
The Tribune objects to this use of their reporting, as well. “Mr. Osborn ignores the rest of the statement,” the Tribune notes, “about how Congress has never repealed any entitlement and that there were not enough votes in both houses of Congress to achieve that goal.”
Their clarification concludes with a link to the original story featured in the Sasse ad and a scolding for any politician who would do as Osborn has done and use the newspaper as a source for dishonest ammunition: “Don’t take comments out of context. Don’t gloss over the important background.”
Osborn and his allies have ramped up their attacks on Sasse, the president of Midland University and former Assistant U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, in recent weeks as the grassroots-supported candidate has widened his lead. Polls in March showed Sasse pulling up to a virtual tie with Osborn, and opening up a six point lead within a month.
Sasse’s improved poll performance has intensified the rally to topple him as frontrunner. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is planning to visit Nebraska to campaign for Osborn, while a super PAC with ties to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has spent more than $100,000 against Sasse recently.
Sasse, meanwhile, has acquired endorsements from Sarah Palin and Senators Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who have visited Sasse on the campaign trail.