Brad Bumsted: Distortion season
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 9:03 p.m.
The TV ad was gripping: Former Lackawanna County Assistant DA Kathleen Kane went “soft” on two rapists; one went on to assault two other women. For a statewide candidate, it couldn't get much worse.
There was just one problem: They weren't Kane's cases.
Kane, Democrat nominee for state attorney general, faces Republican David Freed, Cumberland County DA, on Nov. 6. The ad was aired by the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee, a nonprofit that includes the Republican Attorneys General Association, in an $800,000 Philadelphia media buy.
It is the season of lies and outright distortions by Democrats and Republicans at the national and state levels. Yet negative TV ads, even the worst ones, are usually based on a kernel of truth, leaving viewers to sort out what's real.
The ad against Kane broke new barriers. The basic charges were false and dredged up disturbing memories for families that lived through despicable tragedies.
Kane's maiden name, Granahan, was on the cases' intake documents. But whoever did the negative research didn't look further or ignored the facts. The cases were handled from beginning to end by other prosecutors.
The ad “falsely disparages Kane's record as a prosecutor,” said her former supervisor, First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico.
“A simple review of relevant court records demonstrates the falsity of the claims made in the television advertisement,” he wrote, “and illustrates the reckless disregard — of those airing the ad — for the truth.” He called them “outrageous false attacks” and urged the nonprofit, which raises money for GOP state candidates across the country, to pull the ad.
The ad brought back bad memories, a victim's father said, but “what makes this advertisement even more offensive is it isn't even true.” His letter, released by the Kane campaign, also urged the committee to yank the ad. The father said he never dealt with Kane and the GOP committee “should be ashamed.”
Despite the protests, the ad ran for five days before it was changed.
A new version substitutes a third rape case, faulting Kane for “failing miserably” by winning a conviction on lesser charges, not rape, and a four- to 10-year sentence.
To be clear, these are not Freed's ads. But independent expenditures are clearly made to help specific candidates — in this case, Freed.
What did Freed say about this?
“David Freed is running his campaign in the way he's run the district attorney's office for the past seven years, with honesty and integrity. It's our sincere hope that our opponent, as well as any outside groups that are supporting our campaign or our opponent's campaign, conduct themselves in an honest and ethical manner,” said spokesman Tim Kelly.
In its defense, the Republican State Leadership Committee issued a disingenuous press release, a supposed “fact check” noting the charging documents contained the name Kathleen Granahan.
It is only going to get uglier.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Changes proposed to legislation aimed at reducing Pittsburgh blight
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- License transfer paves way for new restaurant in McKeesport
- New Pirates pitcher Eppley brings special delivery to team’s staff
- Wilmerding Y surviving Ice Plant shutdown
- Watch is on for landslides
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- New McKeesport committee to focus on community issues