‘Al Jazeera’ attack on Jon Ossoff rated ‘mostly false’

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Democrat Jon Ossoff. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Sixth District candidate Jon Ossoff won a single ‘Pinocchio’ from Washington Post fact checkers a few weeks back for his characterization of his Capitol Hill experience, but a new analysis from PolitiFact shoots down one of the most eyebrow-raising GOP attack ads against the Democrat.

On the fact checkers’ examination table is a recent spot from Congressional Leadership Fund, the Super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, which slams Ossoff’s past production of documentaries for Al Jazeera, calling the international satellite TV network a “mouthpiece for terrorists.”  The spot earned a rebuke from former U.S. senator Max Cleland, a Democrat who was defeated in 2002 in party by GOP attack ads that accused him of siding with Osama bin Laden.

PolitiFact today has slapped the CLF ad’s chief claim — that “a mouthpiece for terrorists, has been paying Jon Ossoff thousands of dollars. … What is he hiding?” – with a “mostly false” rating:

“This is a case when a series of partial truths are strung together to promote the worst possible conclusion. Some Americans have called Al Jazeera a mouthpiece of terrorists. Others, including a U.S. senator, have praised it as a beacon of reporting in the Middle East and Africa. The ad cherry-picks its evidence to characterize Al Jazeera only as aligned with terrorists.

Al Jazeera did pay Ossoff’s company. During the time frame covered in his financial disclosure, Ossoff’s [London-based] firm produced two film projects, one for Al Jazeera and one for the BBC. Al Jazeera has been a major client over the years, but going back to the start of 2016, it is one out of 13.

 

…The ad suggests Ossoff is hiding something. Given the evidence at hand, the answer appears to be that he is unwilling to open the books of his business beyond what the law requires.

Even so, don’t expect the issue to go away. This was the Republican welcoming party that greeted Ossoff at a Georgia Tech gathering on Thursday evening:

Greg Bluestein, gbluestein@ajc.com

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If you’re a Republican hoping your party will retain control of Georgia’s Sixth District, two glimmers of hope are on this morning’s breakfast plate:

A NYT report that the ballot histories of early voters in the Sixth, after being dominated by Democrats, are now listing Republican.

And an AJC report by our colleague Kristina Torres that says Tuesday’s voter pool in the Sixth has changed only slightly since November. Meaning that Democrats launched no substantial voter-registration drive to boost their chances.

But if you’re a Democrat, this one’s for you. From the website of the Gallup organization:

More than one in five U.S. adults cite dissatisfaction with the government and political leadership as the most important problem in the country. This is by far the problem U.S. adults most frequently mention, followed by healthcare, immigration and the economy. Americans have often named government dissatisfaction as the top problem in the nation.

 

The current level of dissatisfaction with the government is the highest since October 2013 to January 2014, after the partial government shutdown that October. The only other period during Gallup’s polling history when a higher percentage of Americans cited government as the most important problem was in 1973 and 1974 during the Watergate crisis.

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Republican Bob Gray’s campaign was called out on CNN late Thursday for falsely claiming he was the only candidate in the Sixth District congressional contest “who personally campaigned for the Trump-Pence team, while others refused to stand against Hillary.”

The former Johns Creek city councilman, slipping in some recent polls, sent the robocall to conservative voters in the suburban Atlanta district. Running as a “willing partner” to President Donald Trump, he’s come over heavy fire from his rivals about his pro-Trump bona fides.

Gray’s claim as the only Republican in the race “who personally campaigned” for Trum is easily refutable. Bruce LeVell was head of Trump’s diversity coalition — LeVell trekked to Washington on Wednesday for a meeting with the president that he hoped would boost his campaign. Another candidate, tea party organizer Amy Kremer, stumped for Trump across the nation, and has earned the endorsement of Trump allies Sean Hannity and Katrina Pierson. Listen to the robo-call here:

This isn’t the first time Gray’s campaign has been accused of questionable tactics. His campaign has employed a no-holds-barred brands of political gamesmanship that has infuriated some of his rivals.

And it sent out a hoax press release, under the banner “breaking news,” falsely claiming that Republican Karen Handel had dropped out of the contest and endorsed him. The campaign said it was an April Fools’ joke, although it coupled it with a YouTube video with edited audio.

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Some of you are amazed by the attention this lil’ ol’ congressional race in Georgia is getting. But consider that there’s even more that you’re not seeing. The following was contained in a Thursday note from the Sixth District campaign of David Abroms, a Sandy Springs businessman who is barely scratching in the polls:

“Two weeks ago, Jon and I were approached by a major cable news network about participating in a nationally televised forum to discuss the issues affecting citizens of the 6th District and our country. They were looking at how a younger generation of leaders were running in the age of Trump, in this case Jon and myself.”

Which one? Abroms identifies it only as “a friendly liberal media network.”

Abroms said he agreed to the meeting, but that Ossoff has cancelled. This might have had something to do with it.

Ossoff’s campaign said they never agreed to any such debate.


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