By now, most TV viewers in Michigan have probably seen one of Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun’s ads blasting plans for a new bridge to Canada.
Like the worst political attack ads, the anti-bridge commercials offer a smidgen of fact overlaid with a deep pile of exaggeration and distortion. In the latest one, the only true statement is about the roads being in bad shape. The ad even misspells the name of Gov. Rick Snyder, Moroun’s nemesis who backs the government-owned New International Trade Crossing project.
Dick Morris, the Fox News commentator and political consultant who crafted the attack ads for Moroun, calls his handiwork “completely accurate.” But Tom Shields, a spokesman for the NITC project, said nothing in the latest ad is true, except the disclaimer that it was paid for by the Ambassador Bridge company.
Bridge ad analysis finds only a smidgen of truth
For months, Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun has been warning TV watchers that Gov. Rick Snyder’s New International Trade Crossing project is a boondoggle that would cost taxpayers $100 million a year for a bridge that’s not needed.
Dick Morris, the Fox News commentator and controversial political consultant, created the ads for Moroun. In an interview with the Free Press late last month, Morris dismissed complaints about the truthfulness of the messages. “The ads have been completely accurate,” he said.
Snyder and his allies backing the NITC project call Moroun’s ads false and misleading and say they’re designed to protect Moroun’s Ambassador Bridge from competition for international toll revenue.
Of Moroun’s latest ad, Tom Shields, a spokesman for the NITC project, said Tuesday: “There’s nothing in this ad that is truth at all, probably except for the disclaimer that it’s paid for by the Ambassador Bridge” company.
As the Michigan Legislature continues to examine Snyder’s proposal, the Free Press is examining the accuracy of one of Moroun’s ads. A smidgen of fact was found, but there was also exaggeration and falsehood.
What the 30-second ad says: “Republicans and Democrats agree — Michigan’s potholed roads and crumbling bridges are a mess, dangerous to our families and hurting our economy. But Rick Snyder has a higher priority than fixing our local roads. Rick Snyder wants to build a bridge to Canada, instead. The special interests and contractors want the money. Snyder wants a monument. We need our local roads and bridges fixed. Call your legislators today and tell them, ‘Fix our local roads.’ ”
Analysis of Claim No. 1: “Republicans and Democrats agree — Michigan’s potholed roads and crumbling bridges are a mess, dangerous to our families and hurting our economy.”
True. There is widespread concern over the wear and tear on Michigan’s roads and bridges, and a lot of debate over how to pay for repairs.
Revenue from gas taxes, which pays for most road repairs, peaked at about $2 billion in 2004 and has since dropped by $200 million a year because of factors such as changing driving habits and more fuel-efficient cars. That means less money for the upkeep of roads.
Analysis of Claim No. 2: “But Rick Snyder has a higher priority than fixing our local roads. Rick Snyder wants to build a bridge to Canada, instead.”
False. This part of the ad sets up a false choice between local road repairs and the NITC project.
In fact, Snyder’s plan is designed to help raise cash for local roads, not drain it away. One of the key selling points is that Michigan would be able to leverage Canada’s $550-million advance payment of Michigan’s share of bridge costs to gain more than $2 billion in federal funds for road repair.
To suggest that the NITC would gobble up local road funds is untrue.
Analysis of Claim No. 3: “The special interests and contractors want the money. Snyder wants a monument.”
False. There is nothing to indicate that Snyder sees the NITC as a personal monument. Of course, contractors want the dollars that a major construction job would bring. But Moroun also wants the dollars — those that he gets from operating the only commercial truck crossing between Detroit and Windsor.
By the way, this part of the ad misspelled Snyder’s name as Synder.
Analysis of Claim No. 4: “We need our local roads and bridges fixed. Call your legislators today and tell them, ‘Fix our local roads.’ ”
This part of the ad again creates the false impression that Michiganders must choose between local road repairs and the NITC project.