WASHINGTON — Negative comments criticizing a Minnesota Republican's Senate campaign ad for featuring a child hitting the candidate in the groin have begun to mysteriously disappear from his Facebook page and appear to have been replaced with comments praising the spot.
On Monday, Mike McFadden — a wealthy executive expected to self-fund some of his Senate bid — put up his first broadcast TV spot of the cycle. The ad features McFadden coaching a youth football team and, eventually, getting hit by one of the players.
"I'm Mike McFadden and I approved this message," McFadden says in tone of voice that's a pretty standard impression of a guy who just took a hit to the groin.
The buzzy spot did its job and created a firestorm of conversation in and out of Minnesota. But not all of the comments were positive. Some objected to the hit in the groin. That led the campaign to formally say it was, in fact, not a hit to the groin but rather a hit to first "the gut" and later "the stomach." But bolstering the case for groin-hit truthers was the fact that the ad was crafted by the same firm that made Iowa Republican Senate nominee Joni Earnst's memorable pig castration spot, perhaps the most groin-focused TV ad in American political history.
The local press quickly declared the whole episode "groingate."
On McFadden's campaign Facebook page, the ad landed to decidedly mixed reviews. While it picked up several dozen likes, it also invited a raft of negative comments, some from those inclined to support McFadden.
"Terrible ad. Shame on you. Hoping I don't have to watch it again. Kids mouthing what some adult told them to say," wrote one commenter. "Please do better or you will loose [sic] my support."
Around 3:30 PM central time yesterday, according to a Minnesota Democrat who was watching the Facebook traffic on the ad closely, that negative comment and several others disappeared from McFadden's Facebook page. By 3:35 PM, they were replaced by three positive comments about the ad.
A cached version of the page showed the negative comments while the current version shows only one negative comment, this one about the uniforms of the real-life youth football team featured in the ad.
"why are you using the Boise state logo in your ad????" a commenter asked.
The McFadden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Minneapolis City Pages reports a McFadden campaign intern was behind some of the positive comments left on the video after the negative comments disappeared from Facebook.
Meanwhile, the McFadden campaign dismissed the controversy.
"Slow day at City Pages as well as Buzzfeed huh?" said McFadden spokesperson Tom Erickson "Instead of trying to manufacture a controversy, Buzzfeed would've been better off making a listicle detailing how Al Franken has failed Minnesotans by supporting President Obama 98% of the time."