October 16, 2002

’02 really about ’04…

Howard Kurtz says the ’02 campaign is really about the ’04 campaign because the press is more interested in the big contest. He says:

At this point, the next White House contest is personality-driven: Will Al challenge George again? Will Joe break his promise to Al? Will Dick leave the House for another try? Is John from North Carolina a fresher face than John from Massachusetts?

The current campaign, by contrast, is issue-driven: Will Iraq trump the economy? Can the Democrats exploit Social Security privatization? Does anyone still care about prescription drugs?

No wonder many media outlets seem more interested in the election two years down the road than the one at hand, which by the way will determine who controls Congress.

Hmmmm…are those really issues Kurtz identifies, or are they personality-driven press master narratives? Notice how he frames the questions in the second paragraph. He personifies Iraq by asking if it will trump the economy–a conflict with drama and characters. Then, can the Democrats exploit privatization? What about what Democrats (or Republicans) propose and the effects those proposals might have on citizens if enacted? As for the final question: Well, perhaps seniors care. Maybe we need to put some senior reporters on that beat. It seems Kurtz is urging reporters to look for the personality-driven drama in the ’02 campaign.

September 13, 2002

“Privatize” out, “reverse reparations” in…

Here’s an interesting story from my local newspaper–The Kansas City Star. Republicans are pulling a “reverse reparations” ad from a KC radio station. The ad is aimed at convincing African-Americans to support GOP efforts to privatize at least part of the Social Security system. The ad specifically equates Social Security payments with something called “reverse reparations.” The mandatory payment statement at the end of the ad said it had been paid for by GOPAC, the GOP political action committee founded by Newt Gingrich. After complaints, GOPAC disavowed the ad by claiming the organization did not place the commercial, called it a mistake, and said it was being canceled. I wonder how GOPAC can cancel an ad it claims it neither placed nor paid for.

This trend has been building in political advertising (from both major parties) for some time now: Create increasingly offensive ads, and, when complaints are made, pull the ad, call it a mistake, and claim the offending PAC didn’t really authorize or pay for it. This seems to me to be a clear violation of the federal law that political ads must state who or what paid for the ad.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall beat me to this by 12 hours (I waited for it on paper). He’s got an interesting angle and more links.

UPDATE: Here’s a news story about the “privatization” definition debacle.

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