What are the rules when it comes to running campaign ads?

Brian Taff Image
Friday, October 14, 2022
What are the rules when it comes to running campaign ads?
Experts have an important warning about campaign ads: let the voter beware.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This time of year, every other year, they're impossible to escape.

Less than a month out from the midterm elections ... political ads are saturating the airwaves.

But the experts have an important warning about these 30 second pitches.

Let the voter beware.

"If you're relying on TV ads for your political information, you're going to be very poorly informed," said Robert Farley, the Deputy Managing Editor with FactCheck.org, a non-partisan, non-profit group dedicated to parsing out what's true, and what's not, in the barrage of political ads.

And, in a nutshell: not everything you hear in them is true.

"It runs the gamut. You've got outright falsehoods. You've got exaggerations. You've got misleading information," said Farley.

Farley and his team are housed at the University of Pennsylvania, a group of journalists with one job: to scour each claim candidates make in ads for key races across the country.

And with control of Congress on the line, there are lots of key races... and lots of claims made.

"That includes ads that have demonstrably false information," he said. "Local TV stations are required to run them unedited"

Yes, you read that right.

Under FCC law, TV stations must run candidate ads, even when the claims made in them aren't true. And, stations cannot edit the content, even if the content may have been edited by the candidate.

One ad, on the air now, featured the image of a 6abc anchor and graphics made to look like Action News.

That text words never appeared on a newscast, and anchor Jim Gardner didn't have to agree to be in it and would not have.

"They're trading on the credibility of a local, a locally known news anchor, to lend credibility of a claim in an ad," said Farley.

Farley says they've seen a firehose of fuzzy or misinformation claims made this year, making his work all the more important.

But while his team at FactCheck.org relentlessly checks facts, the voters have to want to seek out the truth, too.

"There is an awful lot of misinformation in ads," Farley said, "and it would behoove voters to do a little homework."

Online: Visit FactCheck.org