Fact-checking Esme Murphy: Prof. Jacobs responds

CBS Minnesota anchor/reporter turned to the University of Minnesota Humphrey School’s Lawrence Jacobs to assess the Republican Attorneys General Association ad that she subjected to examination earlier this week. A video of the 30-second ad is posted at Fire AG Ellison. I originally noted RAGA’s production of the ad and million-dollar commitment to airing it in Minnesota last month in my comments on Trafalgar’s Minnesota poll. I believe it is partly based on my 2018 Weekly Standard column “Can Keith Ellison turn lawman.” I sent my column to RAGA executive director Pete Bisbee after speaking with him last month. I reviewed Murphy’s purported fact-check in “Dear Esme Murphy: Fact-check this.”. (I also took up the purported fact-check of the same ad by FOX 9’s Theo Keith.)

Murphy herself didn’t assess the factual allegations of the ad. She turned to Professor Jacobs. Jacobs declares in an edited clip: “The claims are explosive, intended to push the undecided voters against Keith Ellison. Some of them are outright wrong.”

I wrote Professor Jacobs:

Dear Professor Jacobs: I sent the Republican [Attorneys General] Association some of my work on Ellison. I only caught a few seconds of [the RAGA ad], but I did see Esme Murphy’s segment on it. I believe that the ad is based in part on my work. Would you please advise what fact(s) asserted in the ad you believe to be in error? I would like to follow up if appropriate.

Thank you for your courtesies.

Best regards,

Scott Johnson

Professor Jacobs responded late the following morning in a message I included in an update:

Dear Scott,

Thank you for your note.

The crux of the story is on the funding source for the Ellison ad and the use of a shell for the GOP AG arm. Fair game. Whether a Democratic or GOP funder, voters should know who is behind campaign ads.

Take care,


I take it that the ad didn’t get a single fact wrong and that Esme Murphy/CBS Minnesota deceived viewers into believing otherwise via the clip of Jacobs in the video.

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