Chris White, DCNF
- Left-wing super PAC Pacronym is using conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s image in ads lambasting President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide.
- Pacronym receives the lion’s share of its donations from a nonprofit started by former President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, according to data from OpenSecrets.org.
- The group announced in February a plan to shovel $5 million into digital ads across various social media platforms aimed at painting the president as incompetent during a global health crisis.
A super PAC is using Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s image and likeness in advertisements designed to criticize President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pacronym is plastering ads across Facebook suggesting the president did not reply to the virus in a timely manner as the novel disease blanketed the United States, killing more than 10,000 people in the process. The ads using Carlson’s face are targeted at voters in battleground states Trump won in 2016, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of Facebook’s Ad Library.
The ad’s description states: “The President failed to take this crisis seriously back in January, and now the American people are paying the price for it.” Pacronym project Four Is Enough published the ad, which links to a website with the URL trumpcoronavirusplan.com.
The website contains a short video montage of Trump’s various comments on COVID-19, but contains no clips of Carlson, who is a co-founder of the DCNF.
The ad’s in-copy message also contains a March quote from Carlson, who asked in an episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” why the “richest, most advanced country on the planet” was not prepared.
Carlson was referring to what he believed was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s inability to roll out coronavirus test kits in a timely manner.
He added: “Government incompetence played an awfully big role in all of this.” Carlson appeared to take a jab at Trump during a March 10 episode — the president once likened the coronavirus to the flu.
“People you trust — people you probably voted for — have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem,” Carlson said during the broadcast.
The ad has received more than 1 million impressions as of the publication of this article, according to Facebook’s online ad archive.
The ads containing images of Carlson target Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and South Carolina, all of which voted for the president in 2016. Democrats say all five states are in play in 2020 as the party works to defeat Trump after picking up big gains across battleground states during the 2018 midterm elections.
“[I]t’s up to the independent fact-checkers to review content and make a determination about its accuracy,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told the DCNF, referring to the Carlson ad.
He directed the DCNF to a website explaining what publishers should know regarding the company’s fact-checking process.
Some Democrats are also using what they believe is Trump’s incompetence on the issue as campaign fodder.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, is also criticizing Trump’s response, which has been off-beat, with the president shifting from likening the virus to the flu to restricting travel to China where the virus originated.
The Pacronym ads hit the president for not acting soon enough in January, though Trump instituted travel restrictions against China on Jan. 31.
Pacronym announced on March 17 a plan plowing $5 million into a digital advertising campaign railing against Trump’s coronavirus response.
A March 25 Facebook ad from the group suggested Trump dismantled “a federal team working on pandemics” ahead of the virus outbreak. That ad is also published through Four is Enough.
One of the group’s biggest benefactors is former President Barack Obama’s first attorney general, Eric Holder, whose nonprofit National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) provided Pacronym with $2 million in donations leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, according to data collected by OpenSecrets.org. Pacronym also received $300,000 from its sister group, ACRONYM.
ACRONYM founder Tara McGowan, for her part, is also creating a constellation of local news websites that act as progressive arms targeting the president and his policies.
McGowan, a digital producer for Obama for America in 2011 and the proprietor behind ACRONYM, raised at least $25 million from wealthy liberals to create a media company called Courier Newsroom that is designed to deliver information favorable to Democrats.
Courier is rolling out news sites in swing states to counter what its founder believes is right-wing spin on Facebook and across the digital domain.
Along with the Courier Newsroom, McGowan is reportedly creating Virginia Dogwood and Arizona’s Copper Courier, among others that are expected to roll out in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, all battleground states. She’s not alone in her use of ACRONYM as an attack dog.
Democratic operative David Plouffe, who managed former President Barack Obama’s 2008 White House bid, sits alongside McGowan on ACRONYM’s board.
Neither Pacronym nor the NDRC have responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.