Welcome to Check the Attacks, a Northwest Progressive Institute project created to help voters, journalists, and activists track and debunk trashy political advertising in the Pacific Northwest. Check the Attacks is a play on "Check the facts", a phrase that disingenuously appears on a large number of attack mail pieces.
Often, "Check the facts" serves as a heading for a list of footnotes in tiny print, deliberately inserted by political consultants to make the mailer's bold, negative statements seem more credible and legitimate.
Check the attacks with Check the Attacks
We built Check the Attacks to provide the context and background that these ads conveniently leave out, as a public service to all who are sick of gutter politics. Feel free to browse our repository of scanned attack mailers, organized by election and office sought, or use the search box to look for a specific ad.
What Check the Attacks is... and what it's not
Check the Attacks is an image repository that provides unaltered, digital copies of attack mail pieces that have been sent to voters through the U.S. Mail by an entity (candidate, union, corporation, wealthy individual, political party, etc.) attempting to influence the outcome of an election in the Pacific Northwest. Each image in the repository is accompanied by explanatory information describing where the ad came from, who paid for it (if the responsible entity is known), which primary sources the ad's creator relied on for the ad's claims, and reactions to the ad - especially from any persons or organizations who the ad targets for vilification.
If an ad has been fact-checked elsewhere, and sufficient research has been undertaken to either verify or disprove the claims in the ad, we will assign it a status of False, Mostly False, Mostly True, or True.
We invite voters, journalists, and other activists to draw their own conclusions by looking at the ads for themselves with a skeptical eye. Our objective is to make it easier to put the charges these ads contain under a microscope.
As its name implies, Check the Attacks was conceived to capture and catalogue negative political campaign ads, to shine a stronger spotlight on what we call gutter politics. The primary goal of the project is to document, not deconstruct. On occasion, we debunk an ad at Check the Attacks' sister project, the NPI Advocate, but we don't do so here.
However, when anyone brings to our attention the existence of credible analysis that examines an ad's veracity, we will link to it, and possibly use it to assign a status grading the ad for fairness and accuracy.
Is Check the Attacks affiliated with a political party?
No. As mentioned above, Check the Attacks is a project of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a netroots powered strategy center working to raise America's quality of life through innovative research and imaginative advocacy. We capture and catalogue attack ads regardless of who created them and paid for them. Ideology and party affiliation are not factors we take into consideration when deciding whether to include a mailer in the repository. If a mail piece is negative in tone and created with the intent of influencing an election in the Pacific Northwest, it is eligible for inclusion here.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and I received a hit piece in the mail. Can I upload it to Check the Attacks?
If we don't already have a copy of it, then yes - as long as you agree to make no alterations to the mailer after you scan it, save for obliterating your address. If you're not sure how to remove your address after scanning, we can take care of that. Please note that you will need an account to upload images to Check the Attacks. Follow this link to request an account.
I found an error in one of the explanatory statements accompanying an ad. How do I report it?
Contact us and let us know. We'll take care of it.
What inspired NPI to launch Check the Attacks?
The idea of creating an image gallery to catalogue attack mailers is something we had previously given thought to, but the appearance of a shadowy political action committee in Washington's newly redrawn 1st Congressional District - which has sent some half a dozen mailers attacking candidates seeking the position of U.S. Representative - inspired us to make the idea a reality. Going forward, we hope to catalogue as much attack mail here as we possibly can. We're even considering adding archived attack mailers from past election cycles, and potentially creating a Hall of Shame where visitors can see the worst of the worst.
How do the tags work?
There are two types of tags. The first type begins with the word "Concerns". This type of tag identifies the target of a particular ad (usually a candidate, but can be an organization or other entity). The second type of tag begins with the words "Paid for by...". This type of tag identifies who is behind an attack mailer. Clicking on a tag will bring up a special gallery comprised of all the hit pieces we have that concern a particular person/entity, or were paid for by a particular person/entity. When a political committee is funded exclusively by one person or corporation, we use the name of that person or corporation, rather than the chosen committee name.
Is there an easy way to view multiple images in sequence?
Yes, there's a slideshow feature. Click the play button at the top of the sidebar, on the right, to view multiple images on your screen or monitor.