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Latest Stefanik ad includes fake citation, misleading claims

Congresswomen Elise Stefanik is shown touring GG Roxane Bottling Company in Johnstown on Tuesday. On the left is Amy McCray, the east coast human resources and safety manager, and on the right is state Assemblyman Robert Smullen. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

A television ad released by the U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik reelection campaign Tuesday includes a falsified quote the Enterprise debunked in 2018, as well as a misleading claim on her Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb’s current position on Medicare for All.

The ad, titled “You Paid In,” is on Stefanik’s YouTube channel and, according to a press release from the Stefanik campaign, “will rotate heavily on broadcast and cable in all media markets in NY-21.”

Twelve seconds into the ad there is graphic with the words “‘Taxin’ Tedra Wants a trillion dollars in new taxes.'” Underneath this is a smaller text box reading “CNN, 9/12/17.”

The article the ad is referencing, titled “Sanders’ last ‘Medicare for all’ plan cost nearly $1.4 trillion” includes no reference to Cobb, and the quote in the ad has never appeared on CNN. Stefanik’s campaign declined to say who wrote it.

The CNN article was written in 2017, long before Stefanik nicknamed Cobb “Taxin’ Tedra” in June 2018.

The phrase “Taxin’ Tedra Wants a trillion dollars in new taxes” is placed in quotation marks in the ad graphic with a CNN citation, a convention used by television news station to convey that the quote is sourced from the cited article. Therefore, it is an inaccurate quote.

This same quote was used in a 2018 ad titled “Clone.” The Enterprise reported then that the quote was not attributable to any CNN article.

Other ads

Cobb has also released ads with misleading information, saying Stefanik has been “silent” on the issue of Russia allegedly paying the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers.

Stefanik has spoken on this issue and said the reports are unverified.

She has not been as vocal as Cobb would like.

The “Clone” ad from Stefanik begins with an inaccurate claim that Cobb was a “[Gov.] Andrew Cuomo appointee.” Cobb was appointed by the state Department of Health Commissioner, who in turn is appointed by Cuomo. Cobb has made this mistake herself when speaking publicly, too.

Stefanik has repeatedly released ads mischaracterizing Cobb’s current stance on Medicare for All.

Position change

The “You Paid In” ad repeats the misleading claim that Cobb currently supports Medicare for All.

The ad begins with a clip of Cobb saying, “I believe in a Medicare for All system” at a Democratic candidate forum held at Saranac Lake High School in May 2018 and a voiceover saying, “Tedra Cobb supports single-payer, government run health care.” On screen are the words “MEDICARE FOR ALL COBB SOCIALISM.”

In her 2018 bid for election, Cobb said she supported a Medicare for All health care insurance system. Since then, she has changed her position. She no longer supports Medicare for All and has made a Medicare public option her 2020 platform.

Despite this, the Stefanik campaign has repeatedly claimed that Cobb still supports Medicare for All.

Asked for evidence, in an email, Stefanik campaign spokesperson Madison Anderson included a November 2019 tweet of a screenshot from Cobb’s website. The website bullet point says Cobb supports the United States National Health Care Act, a Medicare for All bill.

However, this screenshot is not of Cobb’s current webpage. It is a screen saving from the Wayback Machine Internet Archive archived on Oct. 5, 2018.

This bullet point existed until at least April 22, 2019, the date of the last Wayback Machine archival depicting her support of the act. This bullet point was removed sometime between April 22 and July 26, 2019, the date of the next available Wayback Machine screenshot.

The bullet point was on Cobb’s website for part of the 2020 election cycle, but for over a year now, Cobb has not supported that act.

In February, the Enterprise reported that Cobb has backed off her support for Medicare for All, citing consensus support in the medical community for that method as her reason for doing so.

Stefanik claims Cobb would still vote for Medicare for All.

In a tweet announcing the ad, Stefanik wrote, “Taxin’ Tedra ran on Medicare for All for 2 years. Now she’s hiding from her own record. #NY21 voters know the truth: She would vote with (Speaker of the House Nancy) Pelosi, & AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) for a government takeover of healthcare.”

Stefanik will hold a rally in Saranac Lake at Riverside Park, the corner of Main and River streets, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

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