Voters outraged over anti-Obama lies advertised in Sarasota newspaper

09/27/12 Janelle Irwin
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More than 50 people lashed out at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune Thursday afternoon over a an anti-Obama ad that ran in Sunday’s paper. At a protest in front of the Sarasota paper’s office, the group set out to debunk false claims about the president.

The ad listed 11 things President Obama will “move America to”. PolitiFact researched nine of the statements and found that none of them were true. Among the claims that received Politifact’s lowest rating, Pants on Fire - Obama would force courts to accept Islamic Sharia Law in domestic disputes. One Sarasota-area resident, Stephen Cooper says that has nothing to do with Obama because the executive branch can’t force the judiciary branch to enforce such measures.

The ad was run by a political action committee called Ging-Pac, which stands for Government is not God. People outraged over it say it incites religious and cultural hatred and fear mongering. It touched on conservative talking points like abortion and gay marriage saying that Obama would force military chaplains to perform same sex marriages and force states to pay for abortions. Ray Matienzo, a member of the Democratic Club of Sarasota, wrote a letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune expressing his concern about the ad.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has issued an apology for printing the ad, saying it did not meet their policies regarding fairness and accuracy. Matienzo said he wants an apology for a similar ad that was run by the same religiously-charged Super PAC in June.

Most of the protesters were Obama supporters and many wore campaign swag. But it wasn’t the hit to Obama’s political platform that enraged them the most. Donna Cubit-Swoyer says printing false information about candidates can easily sway voters who aren’t informed about political candidates.

Another dis-proven claim was that Obama would force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies. Cubit-Swoyer laughed at that one.

According to PolitiFact, the man behind the anti-Obama ad was William Murray with the Super PAC “Government is not God”. In an interview, Murray told PolitiFact that the claims printed in the ad were merely predictions. But at the bottom the ad says “This is the true agenda of Barack Hussein Obama”. Karle Murdock said the 11 statements about President Obama were anything but true.

There was also buzz around the crowd about the controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to dump unlimited amounts of money into what some call political slush funds. Venice resident JoAnn Welsh said the ad is just another example of why money needs to be taken out of politics.

The ad ran in 19 publications across the country. Other claims include forcing Christian schools to hire non-Christian teachers, forcing employers to hire illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens, pay college tuition for illegal immigrants’ children, allow Occupy protesters to live in parks and force the creation of permanent government funded underclass. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune did not respond to our interview requests.

In an email response from Rick Edmunds, a researcher with the Poynter Institute, he wrote:

"It appears that Sarasota Herald-Tribune may not have done any review until after the fact and complaints."

He added that sometimes happens and cited how difficult it is to police things like comment chains on websites. In his email, Edmunds said an apology for printing the misleading ad was sufficient.

Here are more photos of the protest.

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