Late attack ad by John Cornyn manipulates video to put words in opponent MJ Hegar's mouth

Cornyn speaks during a past appearance at the conservative CPAC conference. - Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Cornyn speaks during a past appearance at the conservative CPAC conference.
A new attack ad by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, makes use of manipulated video from an interview with Democratic opponent MJ Hegar to make it sound like she fully supports a carbon tax.

In reality, Hegar has campaigned that she'd only support such a measure if it's implemented in a way that doesn't hurt Texas workers.

In the new spot, shared by the Cornyn campaign Friday, a female narrator announces that Hegar and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden "pledge to destroy the Texas oil and gas economy."

The assertion is followed by video of Hegar saying, "I support a carbon tax," her lips moving out of synch at the beginning of the clip. The ad is imbedded below.

There's a reason Hegar's lips and the audio don't match up.

The clip is edited from a video interview the former Air Force helicopter pilot gave to Rolling Stone magazine in which she mentions the term "carbon tax." However, she clearly says that she'd only support such a tax if it's done in a way that doesn't harm working families.

"I stand with the league of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club, who support a Carbon Tax but also understand it needs to be done in a way that doesn't just pass the burden on to the middle class and to the lower middle class," Hegar says during the interview.

The exchange between Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell and Hegar begins around 25:15 in the video below.

Contacted for comment on the ad, the Cornyn campaign referred the Current to a comments spokesman Travis Considine gave the Dallas Morning News defending alteration of the video.

“We did not change, in any way, the meaning of what MJ was saying,” he said. “MJ doesn’t get to repeatedly tout her support for a carbon tax and then get indignant when we use her own words calling attention to that support.”

As the race heads into its final stretch, Cornyn has keyed in on a narrative that Hegar will upend the Texas economy by punishing the oil industry. The contest, in which she trails by single digits, has emerged as the closest and priciest of the three-term incumbent's Senate career.

Speaking to the Morning News after a Saturday campaign stop, Cornyn criticized Hegar as being out of touch with Texans, saying she favors a carbon tax and a single-payer health care system.

Just as Hegar hasn't campaigned on instituting a carbon tax regardless of its effect on Texas workers, she also hasn't publicly stumped for a single-payer system. Instead, the Democrat has called for a public option for insurance. 

When contacted for a response by the Morning News, Hegar said Cornyn's the one who's out of touch. 

“The contrast is a do-nothing, privileged, spineless bootlicker who was given the choice always chooses corporate donors and party leadership over the lives of regular everyday Texans that he treats as disposable,” Hegar said. “We see him and we’re done with anybody that’s more D.C. than they are Texas.”

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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