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Maine media botch coverage of misleading campaign ad

Mike Michaud

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud released a three-minute campaign video on Monday in which he claimed that Maine has lost jobs over the past year. The claim – a clear but subtle jibe at his Republican opponent, Gov. Paul LePage – is entirely false.

Yet no one in Maine’s main stream press seemed to notice, or care. Instead, they focused on the ads themes, messaging, and intent. Rather than criticize the claims of an office-seeking career politician, Maine’s biggest newspapers gave him free ad space. (The ad has now been viewed more than 1,200 times.)

[RELATED: Fact-checking the new Michaud ad...]

Over at the Press Herald, Maine’s top political reporter Steve Mistler devoted a few paragraphs of his Capitol Ticker blog to describing the imagery of the ad and its purpose. And, in the Bangor Daily News, Mario Moretto used his State & Capitol blog to similarly uncritically describe the ad.

Neither endeavored to fact-check Michaud’s claims.

Moretto, bending over backward to parenthetically criticize the governor, wrote, “In the clip, Michaud doesn’t mention either of his opponents by name, but makes a veiled reference to LePage  – who earns the state national media coverage whenever he makes an off-the-cuff incendiary remark — when he says the governor should be ‘someone Mainers can be proud of.’”

While Moretto picks up on one of Michaud’s veiled references, he does not mention the other.

As reported yesterday by The Maine Wire, Michaud says in the ad: “If you look at the Maine being one of the three states that’s actually lost jobs, uh, over the last year, the uncertainty, uh, is real.”

However, according to statistics from the Maine Department of Labor, the total number of nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) in the state was 598,500 as of September 2012. As of July of 2013, the most recent month for which data is available, the total number of seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs was 602,000 – an increase of 3,500 jobs.

Maine Jobs

(Source: Maine Department of Labor)

Michaud distorts the facts – accidentally or intentionally – in order to subtly attack LePage’s economic policies.

The ad and its coverage in the media likely foreshadow what is coming this campaign season: liberal politicians playing fast-and-loose with the truth while liberal newspaper reporters turning the blind eye.

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter

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