Koch Group Abandons Obamacare ‘Horror’ Stories After Fact-Check Backlash

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Have we heard the last Obamacare “horror” story? If new ads from the Koch Brothers-backed group are any indication, we might have.

Americans for Prosperity, the well-funded conservative group that has been attacking Democrats in battleground states over the health care reform law, put out TV ads Monday against Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Udall (D-CO).

But what’s notable about the ads is what they aren’t: A personalized story of someone who’s been negatively affected by Obamacare, the kind of verifiable set of facts that can be checked — and rebutted, as happened with a recent AFP ad that led to significant backlash from the fact-checking community.

“People don’t like political ads. I don’t like them either,” a woman tells the camera to start AFP’s new ads, announced Monday by the group. “But health care isn’t about politics. It’s about people.”

She then criticizes the law for canceled health plans, narrow provider networks and higher premiums while linking Landrieu and Udall to those problems — but she speaks in general talking points. The new ad buy is $1.7 million across the two states, and the spots will run for three weeks.

It’s a notably different style after the group incurred the wrath of fact-checkers over an ad released last month in the Michigan Senate race. That ad told the story of a cancer patient who had her plan canceled because of Obamacare. But the spot didn’t mention that the subject would save at least $1,200 for a new health plan under the law, as TPM and numerous other-fact-checkers reported.

Another AFP ad featuring a Medicare recipient earned a “Two Pinocchios” rating from the Washington Post. The Huffington Post called out a third ad, featuring a couple whose policy had been canceled, in the Arkansas Senate race last week.

UPDATE, 2:35 p.m. ET

“We are currently on-air with many different types of ads, including personal testimony of Obamacare impact,” AFP spokesman Levi Russell told TPM. “This is the same strategy we’ve been using for 6 months. This does not represent a shift in strategy.”

Though the group billed these as “new ads” multiple times throughout its announcement, Russell noted that a similar version has run in North Carolina against Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) prior to the ad buys in Colorado and Louisiana.

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