Rep. Issa Jumps Onto The Ford Ad Attack Bandwagon

September 30, 2011 9:38 am ET — Brian Powell

Pundits in the right-wing media universe have been falling all over themselves this week after a Detroit News columnist alleged that the Obama administration pressured Ford Motor Co. into pulling ads that criticized the government's bailout of the auto industry. The columnist provided no named or unnamed sources supporting his claim, and both Ford and the White House swiftly denied it. But that hasn't stopped House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) from initiating a committee investigation into the matter.

Yesterday, Issa sent a letter to Ford's CEO, Alan Mulally, requesting information on the matter. Issa wrote:

There were some indications that Ford has stopped airing the advertisement as a result of pressure from the White House. [...]

To assist the Committee in its oversight effort, please provide...a full and complete explanation of Ford's decision to stop airing the advertisement.

According to the footnote in the letter, "some indications" refers to the aforementioned Detroit News column, which the Washington Post's Greg Sargent deflated pretty quickly earlier this week:

Apparently some right wing bloggers think they may have found their next big scandal: The White House may have pressured Ford Motor Company to yank a TV ad critical of Obama's rescue of the auto companies!

That would be quite a story indeed -- the latest example of heavy handed White House bullying of the private sector, all in service of its hated auto bailout. Except there's a small problem: Ford and the White House are both denying the tale, and the original report that is the basis for all the chatter today is not even sourced at all.

As for Issa's request for an explanation for pulling the ad, Sargent points out that Ford has already provided a pretty simple one, courtesy of Ford spokesperson Meghan Keck:

The ad was replaced with another ad, which is our usual practice when an ad runs its course. There was no pressure from the White House or the administration. This is Ford's decision, and part of our usual practice. This is one ad in a series that features real Ford customers talking in their own words.

Despite all this, Issa insists on spending the resources of one of Congress' most important committees to investigate a television commercial. After such a fruitless reign as Oversight chair thus far, maybe it's time for Issa to start picking his battles more wisely.