Fact or fiction: Unrelenting local political ads are often untrue

Posted at 6:23 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 18:24:34-04

As the Nov. 6 election fast-approaches, political ads continue to make up more of the commercials airing on television.

The ads are unrelenting and, oftentimes, untrue. With the election less than three weeks away, 7 Investigators continues to fact-check some of the ads you’re bound to see this campaign season.

McCain criticizes Slotkin

In an ad put out by the National Republican Congressional Committee, Congressional candidate Elissa Slotkin is seen being lambasted by the late Senator John McCain, who tells Slotkin: “You either don’t know the truth or you’re not telling the truth.”

Viewers asked WXYZ to fact-check the ad, wondering if McCain’s criticism was overblown or if his comments were taken out of context – they weren’t.

The hearing took place in 2014 when Slotkin was being considered for a position as an assistant secretary of defense. For several minutes, McCain grilled Slotkin over her views on U.S. forces in Iraq and how to defeat ISIS. 

“I do not believe she is qualified,” McCain said at the hearing. “I believe she can’t articulate a strategy for the defeat of ISIS.”

Ultimately, McCain held up her nomination and she was not confirmed, though others on the committee maintained she was more than qualified.  

Since the ad came out, Slotkin has said she was just advocating President Obama's positions at the time, and the McCain family asked that the Senator not be used in the ad.

Bishop and pre-existing conditions

A recent pro-Slotkin ad, put out by her campaign, attacks Congressman Mike Bishop for his vote on health care.

“Mike Bishop voted to gut protections for every one of his 300,000 constituents with a pre-existing condition,” the ad says.

This ad is both fiction, and fact. In 2015, Bishop did vote to overturn Obamacare, which would have led to a loss in coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But then, two years later, he voted in favor of the American Healthcare Act that included a protection for pre-existing conditions. But there’s a catch: analysts said it could also make that coverage much more expensive.  

Bishop maintains he’s in favor of coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

Whitmer’s “radical government takeover”

An anti-Gretchen Whitmer ad that was released recently says she wants to make big changes to your health insurance.  

“Career politician Gretchen Whitmer wants a radical government takeover of your health care,” says the announcer. “Your employer provided insurance plan would be illegal. You could lose your doctor and your taxes could double.”

To be clear, Whitmer hasn’t advocated for government-run health care in Michigan and was even criticized for it by her Democratic primary opponents earlier this year. The entire ad is based off of Whitmer saying she’d be supportive of the federal government—not Michigan—moving to a single-payer model. But as governor, she has stated no plans to move Michigan in that direction. 

We’re labeling this ad: fiction.

Schuette and Flint

Finally, a devastating anti-Schuette ad blames the attorney general for the fallout from the Flint water crisis.

“When Bill Schuette failed to do his job, people got hurt,” the commercial says.

The ad claims Schuette “OK’d the disastrous Flint water deal,” a claim WXYZ is labeling as misleading. His office says they signed-off on it from a legal perspective, but they weren’t involved in the deal’s substance.

The ad continues: “His office got 15 different complaints over two years, but Schuette ignored them all.”

There is some truth to that claim. Schuette’s office received more than a dozen complaints about Flint’s water and didn’t launch a probe. Instead, his office says they were referred to the Department of Environmental Quality.  

Eventually, Schuette did open an investigation, charging 15 officials over the water crisis. We’re labeling this ad: misleading.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at or at (248) 827-9466.