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4 Big Lies in Anti-Trump Ad '30 Seconds to Nuclear War'

4 Big Lies in Anti-Trump Ad '30 Seconds to Nuclear War'

By    |   Thursday, 15 February 2018 10:35 PM

California billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged to spend $40 million in a national campaign to impeach President Trump, and his latest broadside comes in the form of a 30-second ad riddled with half-truths, inaccuracies, and innuendo.

The ad, paid for by Steyer personally and not by his NextGen America political action committee, is part of his "Need to Impeach" campaign that is airing in all 50 states.

Democrats have been reluctant to publicly embrace the campaign by the top Democratic donor, fearing it could complicate their efforts to recapture control of the House in November.

President Obama’s former top political strategist, David Axelrod, has called Steyer’s impeachment as a "vanity project" and "unhelpful."

Steyer’s newest ad, which aired on some news networks during coverage of Trump’s state of the union message, displays a tight focus on the second hand of a clock as it sweeps along the dial.

The ad’s voiceover is Steyer himself and he opens: "What can a president do in 30 seconds?"

Steyer continues: "He can fire an FBI director who won’t pledge his loyalty.

"He can order the deportation of a million immigrant children. He can threaten an unstable dictator armed with nuclear weapons.

"He can go into a rage and enter the nuclear launch codes. How bad does it have to get before Congress does something?"

When Steyer began running his ads last fall Trump shot back, calling the hedge fund mogul "wacky and totally unhinged."

What Steyer’s billions couldn’t purchase, it seems, was credibility. The latest ad is marred by repeated factual flaws -- or what Trump likes to call in his rhetorical shorthand "fake news."

Here’s the facts relating to its dubious assertions:

1. Claim: President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty to Trump.

Considering the ad’s literal claim, there’s never been a credible report that Comey, or any other administration official, has ever been asked to take a loyalty pledge -- beyond their oath to defend the Constitution, of course. Most legal analysts agree that firing Comey was well within the president’s constitutional prerogatives.

Democrats, ironically, were among Comey’s harshest critics in the months leading up to his termination in May, frequently suggesting he should step down or otherwise leave office. Comey was sharply criticized for re-opening an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server just days before the 2016 election – a violation of Justice Dept. protocols.

2. Claim: Trump ordered the deportation of a million immigrant children.

This claim completely overlooks the fact that Trump has shown an interest in finding a way for the children of immigrants to stay. His proposed reforms to chain migration, for example, would grant sponsorships for immigration to spouses and minor children.

In a January interview with ABC News, Trump said the so-called Dreamers "shouldn’t be very worried," adding, "I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border."

These remarks were widely interpreted to mean that Trump wants a deal that allows immigrant children to stay, in return for the funding needed to build the Southern border wall and strengthen border security.

Some 800,000 children, not 1 million, were enrolled for deferred action under DACA, the program President Obama created by executive order.

3. Claim: Trump threatened Kim Jong Un with nuclear war.

Trump’s famous "fire and fury" remark actually came in response to threats by the North Korean despot, not the other way around. Trump prefaced his "fire and fury" statement by saying: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States."

It is true that diplomats have generally been uneasy with Trump’s confrontational tone, a marked departure from the rhetoric of his predecessors. But Trump’s supporters point out that diplomatic niceties failed to keep North Korea from developing an ICBM able to strike virtually anywhere in the United States.

4. Claim: Trump could "fly into a rage and enter the nuclear launch codes."

This actually recycles an old meme Hillary Clinton used during the campaign, that Trump is thin skinned and liable to use nuclear weapons if he gets angry.

The ad oversimplifies the President’s ability order the launch of nuclear weapons. Such an order would require several military personnel working in the chain of command to comply with such an order.

Tobe Berkovitz, the Boston University expert on political communications, likens the fear-mongering in the Steyer ad to the famous "Daisy Girl" commercial during the 1964 presidential race between Lyndon Johnson and Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Berkovitz finds the Steyer ad unconvincing and doubts it will be effective.

"It’s preaching to the converted, and if that worked Hillary Clinton would be president," Berkovitz tells Newsmax. "She spent close to $1 billion trying to destroy Donald Trump with advertising and the support of the media, and that didn’t work. Why would it work now?"

He also expressed strong skepticism the Steyer add would convince any voters who haven’t yet made up their minds about Trump.

It is not the first time a Steyer ad has been lambasted for inaccuracies and falsehoods.

In January 2014, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave a NextGen ClimateAction ad against the Keystone pipeline add "four Pinocchios" -- its worst rating signifying an outright "whopper." Kessler said the ad did "not even meet the minimal standards for such political attack ads," adding "It relies on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by the reality."

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California billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged to spend $40 million in a national campaign to impeach President Trump, and his latest broadside comes in the form of a 30-second ad riddled with half-truths, inaccuracies, and innuendo.
trump, tom steyer, anti-trump ad, four, big, lies
Thursday, 15 February 2018 10:35 PM
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