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Fact or fiction: Local political ads struggle to tell the whole truth

Posted at 11:42 PM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-09 12:59:27-04

It’s the season where commercial breaks turn into 30-second political fistfights, with candidates from both parties making claims that are misleading, false and—occasionally—completely true.

The 7 Investigators are putting some of the ads under a microscope so that, come Nov. 6, you can cast a vote knowing whether candidates’ claims are fact or fiction.

Easily the most explosive ad of the campaign season came from the Bill Schuette for Governor campaign, claiming that his opponents, Gretchen Whitmer and running mate Garlin Gilchirst, sympathize with terrorists.

“So extreme,” said the ad, “they attacked Israel and praised Hamas.”

Did Gretchen Whitmer ever support Hamas? That’s fiction, there’s no record of Whitmer ever supporting the terror group.  But as to Schuette’s claim about her opponent, Garlin Gilchrist, there some truth to his support based on tweets that he sent out 9 years ago where he was supportive of Hamas and criticized Israel.

Gilchrist has since apologized for the old tweets and says he supports Israel and called Hamas a terror group.

The ad continues, claiming Whitmer and Gilchrist are “so radical, they want to abolish (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).” 

Is that true? At least partly, based on an exchange Whitmer had on the campaign trail that was caught on camera.

Days later, Whitmer walked back the comment and said that while she’s critical of how ICE has separated families, she doesn’t believe it should be disbanded. Overall, we’re labeling this ad as misleading.

Also under our microscope is a Pro-Whitmer ad that claims Bill Schuette supported a tax on state pensions, leading retirees to pay thousands more each year.

“Bill Schuette called that tax plan ‘great news for Michigan taxpayers,’” the ad proclaims.

Did he really? No, that’s taken out of context. The quote comes from a speech Schuette gave back in 2011 and, according to the local newspaper that covered it, Schuette was praising the end of the Michigan Business tax, not the pension tax Whitmer’s referencing. We’re grading this ad as fiction.

Last but not least, there’s an ad form the National Association for Gun Rights about Sen. Debbie Stabenow. 

The ad claims that “Sen. Stabenow voted to strip millions of veterans and other American of their right to own a gun without trial.”

Did she? No, that’s fiction. The ad is referencing Stabenow’s vote for a bipartisan bill from earlier this year that would have strengthened background checks.  It had support of gun-control advocates and even the NRA, and this year was signed into law.

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.comor at (248) 827-9466.