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NBC Nightly News Airs Duplicitous Case Against Anti-Democratic Candidate Campaign Ads

Friday's NBC Nightly News aired a story which went beyond standard liberal bias. It delivered a fabricated case against the peril of unfettered campaign ads as Brian Williams claimed those from "outside political groups...contain outright lies," yet as proof Andrea Mitchell showed ads, not from "outside" entities, but from Republican party groups and candidates - apparently only Republicans are running misleading ads - with Mitchell focusing on the scandal of how those spots feature actors.

After reciting three examples of the supposed deceitfulness, Mitchell undermined her entire story by admitting: "It's not new that political ads use actors." She then got to NBC's real agenda, which she didn't bother trying to corroborate: "But what is different is the torrent of money from corporations and anonymous outside groups pouring into campaigns this year because of a Supreme Court ruling and other changes in the law." Following a silly clip of President Obama joking about the innocuous names of groups daring to buy TV time, Mitchell ominously concluded "it's no laughing matter for Democrats, being outspent 7-to-1 by Republicans in the battle for the airwaves."

Williams set up the shoddy story: "Candidates are spending a fortune this season, and outside political groups are spending even more money. Some of them take liberties with the truth. Some of the ads airing right now contain outright lies. Others have more subtle deceptions."

Over "POLITICS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE" on screen, Mitchell began: "Almost heaven, West Virginia, backwoods and hollers, just some of the boys at the coffee shop." Showing a clip of an ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee with men in a restaurant criticizing Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin, she pounced: "In fact, the commercial was shot in South Philly's Oregon Diner, far from country roads, with actors told to wear, quote, a 'hicky, blue collar look,' jeans, work boots, flannel shirts, and John Deer[e] hats - misspelled - preferably beat up."

Mitchell moved on to Ohio, where "a Republican attack ad featured an out of work steelworker" who, shockingly, isn't really one: "You wouldn't think there's a shortage of unemployed workers in Ohio, but they hired an actor right out of Law and Order and some other roles we can't show you on family TV." The "they," however, was not one of the nefarious "outside political groups" Williams warned about, but the campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich.

Next, she turned to a left-wing, conservative-mocking comedian for validation. "In some cases the same actors pop up in different states," she asserted over two screen shots showing the same man identified as an "illegal alien," in ads created by the Sharron Angle and David Vitter campaigns, a double-use highlighted by the liberal Think Progress site. Mitchell showcased an excerpt from Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert:

Those are the same hombres. Look at those two pictures. This is the most terrifying scenario of all. There aren't enough stock photos of scary minorities out there to represent all the scary minorities we know have got to be out there.

Following that clip, Mitchell delivered her "it's not new that political ads use actors" line quoted above.

Tuesday night: "With Republican Groups Outspending Democratic Ones, CBS Upset by Speech from 'Outside Groups'"

From the Friday, October 8 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: If you live anywhere near one of these hot political contests in this country, then you know political ads are all over the airwaves. Candidates are spending a fortune this season, and outside political groups are spending even more money. Some of them take liberties with the truth. Some of the ads airing right now contain outright lies. Others have more subtle deceptions. Our report tonight from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Almost heaven, West Virginia, backwoods and hollers just some of the boys at the coffee shop.

MAN IN NRSC AD FOR JOHN RAESE: Obama's messing things up.

SECOND MAN IN AD: Spending money we don't have. Stimulus, ObamaCare.

FIRST MAN AGAIN: And Joe Manchin supported it all.

MITCHELL: In fact, the commercial was shot in South Philly's Oregon Diner, far from country roads, with actors told to wear, quote, a "hicky, blue collar look," jeans, work boots, flannel shirts, and John Deer[e] hats - misspelled - preferably beat up. One of the actors, Damian Muziani, has played a lot of roles.

FROM WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?: All of those are my final answers.

MITCHELL: Even appearing on Saturday Night Live. In Ohio, a Republican attack ad featured an out of work steelworker.

MAN IN AD: Now Ted Strickland wants us to keep him in his job.

MITCHELL: You wouldn't think there's a shortage of unemployed workers in Ohio, but they hired an actor right out of Law and Order and some other roles we can't show you on family TV. In some cases the same actors pop up in different states, here as undocumented immigrants in Nevada and Louisiana.

STEPHEN COLBERT, ON COMEDY CENTRAL'S COLBERT REPORT: Those are the same hombres. Look at those two pictures. This is the most terrifying scenario of all. There aren't enough stock photos of scary minorities out there to represent all the scary minorities we know have got to be out there.

MITCHELL: It's not new that political ads use actors. But what is different is the torrent of money from corporations and anonymous outside groups pouring into campaigns this year because of a Supreme Court ruling and other changes in the law.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: They've got names like Americans for Prosperity or the Committee for Truth and Politics. Or Moms for Motherhood. Actually, that last one I made up.

MITCHELL: But it's no laughing matter for Democrats, being outspent 7-to-1 by Republicans in the battle for the airwaves. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.