Childers' unfair attribution

September 17, 2010 9:58:00 AM

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One of the joys of the newspaper business is we''re inundated with spam e-mail on a daily basis -- and during a heated election season, much of it is political.  

 

Such is the case in the 1st District congressional race, pitting incumbent Rep. Travis Childers, a Democrat, against his Republican challenger, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, a Republican. 

 

Each camp, and some national players, is doing its best to spin the other candidate''s record. "Childers plays politics with Mississippi jobs," is the headline on one recent e-mail from Nunnelee. "Nunnelee Lies About Taxes, Social Security, Health Care, and More," screams an e-mail from Childers'' campaign. 

 

This is only to be expected as each side vies for voters during an election for a seat that''s up in the air. Ads are starting to inundate the airwaves, too. We recently sat through three Nunnelee ads in a row during an evening newscast -- one "official" one from Nunnelee''s campaign, book-ended by two others, from national sources, that blasted Childers personally. Also to be expected. 

 

But we took special notice of a new Childers ad, which brought this newspaper into the fray specifically. 

 

The ad attacks Nunnelee''s record on supporting what''s called the "fair tax" -- an across-the-board national sales tax that would replace income taxes. 

 

The ad, paid for by the Childers campaign, cited "Commercial Dispatch Online" as one of its sources claiming Nunnelee supports the fair tax.  

 

In reality, the source was an anonymous commenter to a story on our website. The story itself was about a Childers visit to a Columbus business, and nothing about Nunnelee or taxes. 

 

That''s lame. 

 

In an interview with The Associated Press, "Childers campaign spokeswoman Dana Edelstein defended the ad''s citation of the anonymous comment by saying the Columbus newspaper itself is ''a reputable news source.''" 

 

Also lame. 

 

"I think this is a new low in Mississippi politics that a campaign would run an ad based on anonymous blog posts," Nunnelee told The AP. 

 

We don''t know about a "new low" -- political advertising tends to be misleading, no matter where it comes from, and sadly, it can get pretty dirty -- but we have to call out the Childers campaign for the misleading attribution. 

 

Lost in all this is whether or not Nunnelee actually supports the fair tax -- he refused to specifically repudiate it outright to the AP reporter, only saying that "I will support taxes that are lower, that are simpler and more transparent." 

 

Politics is politics. But we expect more than this from whomever ends up representing the 1st District seat come November.