Attack Ads – I Hate Them More Than Ever

I understand political attack ads, because they do work. I wish it wasn’t so – it is. However, this election cycle, I’ve become more refined in my distaste for them, because so much of what I see is so obviously ‘half truthiness’ and facts presented way out of context.

I was watching an ad for a local poitico and wondering, if this is the respect shown me in public (I am trying so hard not to let on which politician this was), how much contempt is there in private? Remember, this ad is really targeted at me, not the opponent who seems to be the target!

And, again (repeating, because my prose looks a little convoluted today) this is based on the obvious half truths and out of context statements used to sell their candidacy.

Originally I thought, maybe if politicians were forced to speak on their own behalf while trashing their opponent, that might quell some of this vitriol. Nope. I watched just that scenario transpire yesterday and it was still reprehensible.

TV stations are by-and-large powerless to do much more than collect the money (not that they’re complaining about that). That doesn’t leave them off the hook for getting criticized, as my friend Mike writes is his blog from Nashville (talk about contentious political battles).

What can we do? I don’t want to see free speech thwarted. Candidates should be free to speak their minds, but is there no humanity? Must the singular pursuit of political office be so demeaning?

Here’s my ground rule on this post – comment, but no candidate names or political parties. I have an obligation to my actual employer to remain non-partisan and I will.

10 thoughts on “Attack Ads – I Hate Them More Than Ever”

  1. Know what drives me nuts? The stupid political phone calls…not the ones where people ask your opinion or ask you to vote for their candidate…I’m talking about the machines that automatically dial and then play a pre-recorded message when you pick up. They should be against the law. At least a person I can ask to be taken off their call list – can’t do that with a machine!

  2. He said, She said… They (at least the ads) all sound like a bunch kids pointing fingers. And too think they are all doing this to try to gain a vote is ridiculous! Where is the respect for one another? I say “Tell me what you are going to do to gain my vote. I already know what I believe in. Tell me what you believe in.”

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Geoff. To a certain degree, each candidate needs to point out his/her opponent’s shortcomings, but that has been taken to a new and deceptive level. Some ads make claims that reference back to State Legislature votes in 1989, 1991, 1993 but are used in a current frame of reference. Others, if the viewer can read the “small print” on the bottom of the screen, make claims of events that are out of chronological order by more than 2 years! And of course, no political ad is complete without the obligatory “I’m so-and-so, and I approved this message” ending. It is very disheartening, but unfortunately it looks like it is here to stay. It may very well lead to a complete overhaul, if not eventual dissolution, of the current 2-party political system.

  4. “I’m Geoff Fox and I approve this message,” is a candidate’s obligation under the law.

    Candidates get favored commercial rates for ads they purchase on their own behalf. This differentiates those ads from others bought by national political parties, PACs or other organizations.

    Don’t forget my original premise. These ads are here for one reason – they work. They absolutely do.

  5. There was an example on the news yesterday. One candidate points out that his opponent made a call to a sex line while in a hotel on political business. Turns out it was a wrong number (a digit off) and within a minute the call was made to the right number, a legitimate political reason. Do you think the first candidate knew this all along? I do.

    We have a nasty race going here in NM. It seems that one candidate’s negative ad is always followed by the other candidate’s negative ad. Do the TV stations have to alternate them like that? It could have a whole different effect if the TV station played 20 of one candidate’s in a row. I know about the equal time idea but are they required to alternate like that?

  6. I am sick of the ads, too.

    I was at a dinner party and someone said they were sick of Diane Farrell’s negative ads. I said (and I’m a democrat) hey, she isn’t theonly one. The are ALL negative — incumbent and challenger — democrat and republican.

    Although someone else chimed in that the Governor’s ads have been only positive – same may say hoaky, but they do standout for there ‘niceness.’

    I hate those robo-calls, too.

    How about all the mailings? I live in Wilton — my mailbox is FULL of Farrell/Shays stuff!

  7. Patty — machine auto-calls like that are against the law … but political calls are an exception. This is the only way the do-not-call laws were able to be passed: only if the politicians remained exempt from leaving their constituents alone.

    I hate to say it Geoff, but while you were on vacation last week I stopped watching the local news b/c I just couldn’t take the ads any more. Literally every single commercial spot on the 5:00 and 5:30 newscasts (I switch over to the BBC news at 6) was a political attack ad of some sort. I’ll come back after the election is over.

  8. I am SO tired of these ads…disgusts me, actually.

    Each candidate should have an allotment of ads which can be shown for a defined period of time. Say, 50 ads from August 1 – October 31. I bet they’d be more selective whith what they choose to run if they are limited in the number of ads they are allotted. Let voters choose candidates based on factual information, not persuasive advertising up to the election day.

  9. Geoff,

    I would stick my neck out to say that this constant overload of attack ads may be having the exact opposite effect on the voters. I don’t necessarily agree that the ads are effective at all. In many discussion over the past few weeks, I have heard the oft-repeated refrain that this barrage of attack ads are actually turning voters off from the entire political process. I think intelligent people are frustrated with having half-truths and slander stuffed down their throats day after day. The politicians are burning out their best audience, but I think the only way to get their attention would be to have that frustration reflected in a decreased voting public. That is NOT a solution I would want. otherwise, I don’t know what will change the climate.

  10. Thought i would never say this , but , the attack ads are so low ball and relentless that i can’t wait until after the election and get back to the steady stream of car ad’s. Why don’t the car companies stop advertising for one month and pass on the savings to the consumer?

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