McAuliffe Campaign Caught Rewriting History

McAuliffe Campaign Caught Rewriting History

While is airing ads attempting to clarify his stance on parents’ voices in education (possibly a sign of dire internal polling), his campaign for governor has engaged in another controversial tactic.

Their strategy: purchase Google ads, rewrite the original headlines on news articles and promote them in Google search results.

As The Washington Post reports:

The Google ads purchased by McAuliffe’s campaign feature links to news and opinion articles about his Republican opponent from Axios and The Washington PostThe ads show up at the top of search results for keywords such as “Glenn Youngkin,” and include a disclosure that they are advertisements, as well as an additional tag required for political advertisements that indicate they’re paid for by the McAuliffe campaign.

However, the ads appear in the same headline format used by the publications they’re mimicking. To the casual observer—perhaps an undecided voter—they cast Glenn Youngkin in a decidedly negative light.

Google’s Political Advertising Transparency Report shows that Youngkin’s campaign isn’t using similar ads.

An Axios article with the title “Virginia Governor’s race features Taylor Swift,” appears in Google search results, for instance, but the McAuliffe campaign opted for a different title in its paid advertising link to the same article: “Glenn Youngkin – Betrayed Taylor Swift.”

McAuliffe’s campaign did not directly respond to questions about its method of political advertising. “Glenn Youngkin is running on prioritizing Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories instead of Virginians, and our campaign is making sure we reach voters where they are at,” McAuliffe spokesperson Renzo Olivari said in a written statement.

Experts all agree the technique is something they haven’t seen before in political advertising. And it’s part of a larger ongoing conversation about how misinformation spreads online, especially during elections, and to what extent companies are required to regulate the content advertised on their platforms.