It's sadly predictable.
A few weeks before a local election where conservatives face off against progressive candidates, right-wing attack ads sprout like daffodils in the spring -- except the ads are a lot uglier.
The May 16 Special District Election is no different.
Last Friday I wrote a post, Sexual assault claim spices up school board candidates forum. After the forum, someone told me that they saw two of the conservative candidates talking with the man who claimed that progressive candidate Cynthia Richardson, a Salem-Keizer schools employee, didn't take seriously a sexual assault that he says happened to his eight-year-old daughter.
Predictably, it didn't take long before a right-wing PAC started to run a sleazy ad targeting Richardson. I learned about the ad from a friend who told me on Sunday that it was running on YouTube videos he was watching.
I wrote a Facebook post about this and published it on the three pages I manage: Strange Up Salem, Salem Political Snark, and Salem Can Do Better.
I figured that some people wouldn't like what I said on Facebook. But I didn't anticipate getting a "fake news" accusation. Here's part of the comment interchange I had with someone named Thomas on the Salem Can Do Better post.
Thomas: I just checked YouTube and did a search for "Cynthia Richardson" and the ONLY thing is a "Your Vote Counts" interview which also is done with all the other candidates. NOT ONE DEROGATORY ad on YouTube. This posting by Salem Can Do Better is false and disinformation.... AGAIN.
Me: I have a video of the attack ad. It’s very real.
Thomas: Not on YouTube. False and disinformation like always from the left.
Me: Here's a screenshot of the video my friend made of the You Tube ad. I'm not going to share the video because I don't want to spread right-wing hit jobs. I accept your apology for doubting that the video wasn't real. Us progressives believe in real news, not fake news.
Thomas: Does not exist. I did a search on "cynthia richardson" then a search on "Salem Keizer School board" I then did a sort to most recent and looked back for almost a year.... False or disinformation or "partial" truth. Either way false!!!
Me: Note that the screenshot says in the bottom right corner “video will play after ad.” This is a genuine ad that ran multiple times on YouTube yesterday.
So even when presented with evidence that the attack ad video exists, Thomas refused to believe his own eyes, choosing to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump and assert that anything he doesn't like must be "fake news."
Thomas should have done some Googling, as I did, on the question of how to find ads running on You Tube. Short answer: it isn't easy, and may be impossible.
I'm not the only one complaining about right-wing attack ads against the progressive school board candidates. The Salem-Keizer Proletariat substack had this post today: Salem-Keizer School Board race takes a far-right turn. The right-0n subtitle: Disinformation campaigns fed by dark money reveals desperation of right-wing slate of school board candidates.
A few excerpts: (Note -- the Marion+Polk First PAC is listed as being behind the attack video against Richardson being shown on YouTube.)
With ballots in the mail and around two weeks until election day, the far-right slate of school board candidates in Salem-Keizer has pulled off the gloves to dole out fistfuls of disinformation & propaganda funded by wads of cash from…well, sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Right-wing PAC Marion+Polk First appears to be the driving force behind much of the digital disinformation & mailers that made absurd comparisons between the far-right candidates and the progressive slate of candidates. A slate, by the way, that represents nearly a century of combined experience in education. Guess how many years the Republican candidates have? Virtual high-five if you guessed zero.
...Campaign supporters for both Troutt and Chandragiri began spreading a shameless hit-piece targeting Cynthia Richardson. To be clear, sexual abuse should be thoroughly pursued and it’s terrible that this person and their child is going through this.
But taking the weight of that situation and setting it on the shoulders of a school board candidate completely anonymously on an extremist, right-wing website right as ballots go out to voters is…as the kids might say, a little sus.
Richardson is an accomplished professional retiring from a lifetime and lineage of service in public education running against a transphobe bigot whose reaction to ideas she doesn’t approve of is to ban books.
Walks like a hit-piece. Talks like a hit-piece. Shrug?
There are also apparently digital TV ads being run against Richardson. Again, I haven’t seen the ads and am unable to find them online. From Twitter in response to Alexander’s tweet shared above: