A super PAC supporting Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon and prominent candidate in Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary, has released an attack ad that wildly distorts the past remarks and positions of Kathy Barnette, a party rival who is surging in late-campaign polls.
The super PAC, American Leadership Action, tries to depict the right-wing Barnette, who ran unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives in 2020, as a “crazy” advocate of liberal positions. To do so, though, the super PAC misleadingly truncated Barnette’s past comments about race and policing and added inaccurate introductions to these shortened clips.
The primary takes place on Tuesday. The super PAC did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Barnette’s views on systemic racism among police officers
The ad’s narrator suggests viewers are about to hear Barnette speak on the subject of “violence.” The ad then shows a clip of Barnette, who is Black, saying, “Black Americans feel disenfranchised.” After a quick cut, the ad shows her saying, “Systemic racism. Specifically among police officers.”
Facts First: This segment of the ad is deceptive in two significant ways. First, it completely reverses Barnette’s position on systemic racism among police officers: These short clips were snipped from a May 2020 YouTube commentary in which Barnette explicitly rejected the idea that there is systemic racism among officers. Second, in this same YouTube commentary and in other remarks, Barnette has repeatedly denounced violence, rioting and looting.
Here are Barnette’s actual comments about systemic racism and police officers in the YouTube commentary:
“Listen, there is a reason why many Black Americans feel disenfranchised in America. And I will never try to minimize the reasons why many of them feel that way. And yet a lot of what we see is manipulation. It’s the stoking of the flame of the tensions of the history of this nation. For example, many are saying today that what we are experiencing – what happened to George, George Floyd – is systemic racism in our justice system, specifically among police officers. They would have us to believe that there is a police officer like Officer Chauvin, who had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, around every street corner. And that everywhere we go, there is a police officer waiting to shoot a Black man. I reject that. And I don’t reject it because I feel like that’s not true. I reject it because it is – statistically is not true.”
She went on to cite various statistics she claimed proved her point.
Nothing in Barnette’s remarks was an endorsement of violence in general, or protest violence in particular. In fact, at other moments in the YouTube commentary – which she titled “On the Issues: Justice vs Rioting” – Barnette criticized Pennsylvania Democrats for, in her opinion, not doing enough to condemn or stop rioting.