Obama: McCain pig ad 'a made-up controversy'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday September 10, 2008

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UPDATE AT BOTTOM: After CBS complains, YouTube yanks McCain ad

The McCain campaign is attacking Barack Obama with an internet ad which accuses him of insulting Sarah Palin by using the phrase "put lipstick on a pig" in reference to the McCain campaign.

Obama has responded by calling this a "made-up controversy" and describing the ad as "lies and phony outrage and Swift-boat politics."

However, in the view of MSNBC's Chuck Todd, the McCain ad is an effective ploy. "I think the McCain campaign is laughing their butts off this morning that any of us have taken the bait on this lipstick thing," he told Joe Scarborough. "I mean, this is a joke. ... It's such a faux controversy. It's made up out of whole cloth."

"They're good at winning the news cycles," Todd acknowledged. "And they have beaten the Obama campaign on this little -- what I call sort of shiny metal objects days."

Obama made the "lipstick" remark at a rally in Virginia late on Tuesday, where he stated, "The other side, suddenly, they're saying 'we're for change too.' Now think about it, these are the same folks that have been in charge for the last eight years. ... You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years."

The lipstick-on-a-pig metaphor drew a roar of laughter from the crowd, which clearly took it as an indirect reference to Palin's own remarks about lipstick and pitbulls -- and perhaps also her alleged fondness for pork barrel legislation. However, the metaphor is a common one that has been widely used during the campaign, with McCain himself applying it at least twice to Hillary Clinton's health care proposals.

Even Governor Mike Huckabee took Obama's side on the issue, saying, "It's an old expression, and I'm going to have to cut Obama some slack on that one. I do not think he was referring to Sarah Palin; he didn't reference her."

However, the McCain campaign responded with outrage, with former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift insisting, "Sen. Obama owes Gov. Palin an apology. ... Calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not exactly what we want to see."

The McCain campaign immediately released an internet ad which explicitly accuses Obama of running a sexist campaign. It presents Obama's lipstick-on-a-pig remark out of context, to make it seem that he was insulting Palin personally. That is followed by another out of context clip, misleadingly captioned "Katie Couric on: This Election," in which Couric said last June of Hillary Clinton's primary campaign, "One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life."

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough discussed the ad on Wednesday with his guests, who generally felt that even if the issue was fake, the Republicans were using it effectively to keep the Obama campaign off balance.

"They cannot get dragged into this conversation about a phrase that Barack Obama used ... a phrase he uses all the time," Andrea Mitchell suggested. "Any time they can be talking about a slur agaisnt women, making her look like a victim, they develop a sympathy vote."

This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast September 10, 2008.

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This video is from CNN.com, broadcast September 10, 2008.

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After CBS complains, YouTube yanks McCain ad

The McCain/Palin campaign has drawn the wrath of some famous musicians this campaign season for using songs by artists who are opposed to his policies. While, as a corporation, CBS may not be officially against any of the Republican ticket's policies, the network takes copyright infringement very seriously..

"YouTube has removed a webad that casts Sarah Palin as the victim of sexism on the request of CBS, whose anchor Katie Couric was featured in the ad," Politico's Ben Smith reports.

Smith continues, "Asked about the ad, CBS spokeswoman Leigh Farris said, 'CBS News does not endorse any candidate in the Presidential race. Any use of CBS personnel in political advertising that suggests the contrary is misleading.'"

As Politico notes, "YouTube's page displaying the ad now tells visitors, 'This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by CBS Interactive Inc.'"

The Republicans paid to use Heart's song Barracuda but CBS most probably won't be fielding any offers to rent out their anchor's image any time soon.