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MoveOn.org's petition

If you read CBS' statement, you'll see that they claim they don't air advocacy ads. They will, however, air ads from political candidates or organizations that have been authorized to speak on their behalf. So the real reason this ad fails their litmus test is not because it's an advocay ad, but because it's not being run in favor of a particular candidate. Rather, it's against a candidate.

Nitpicking? Uh-huh. Restricting political speech? You betcha.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2004 11:00 am (UTC)
I'm torn between the idea that they are using public airwaves vs the idea that its a company that can makes its own decisions..

I'm leaning towards the private company side of things. If they choose not to run an ad, then I'm inclined to say that's they're right as to what they want to run, and, though I question why they would be picky about what to run, dictating that must run it to me is equally bad, if not more so.

Though, like I said before, I am keeping that they are dealing with public airwaves in mind. At the same time, I know this is cliched but if this is a step towards less negative campaigning, then I can't say I'm against it.

Personally I'd like to see less negative ads AND a decline in rhetorical comments that are emotionally loaded by lacking in content. But I doubt I'll ever see that.

On another note, I will note that this is possibly a nice counter-example to the "the media has a left-wing bias" stigma.

Politics. Bleh!

I feel a rant coming on, but I'll stop it there.
Feb. 1st, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC)
Well, the only people I hear complaining about the media having a liberal bias is the political right.

And you're right: there is a line to draw between the public's ownership of the airwaves and a private company's right to refuse to transmit information. However, the television airwaves have always been considered a public service, and the FCC regulates what can and cannot be broadcast, how much broadcasting must serve the community, etc. Especially during a presidential election year, having the public airwaves available for the public to engage in an open debate about issues is essential to a free and open society.

Finally, as for negative ads, what's so negative about the ad? The ad asks one question "Who will wind up paying for the president's $1 trillion deficit?" The answer, implied by the images of children working low-paying jobs, is that our children will. This is hardly a controversial accusation. However, in the latest political climate, where questioning the president's policies are tantamount to sedition, the ad is very controversial.

What happened to our free and open society where someone could question the president and not be called a traitor? Why is it that the president gets a free ride on every issue, never once being asked the hard questions that the last president was asked? Our last president was investigated for fraud, and the worst the independant councel could come up with was that he'd had sex with an intern and then lied about it. This president has strongarmed the CIA into writing up intelligence reports to provide a rationale for his predetermined goal of going to war with Iraq. He's lied to the congress and to the american people by telling them that there were WOMD in Iraq, a claim that he knew to be false. He's sent brave american soldiers to die overseas while he tried to cut their combat pay. His administration has handed out lucrative contracts to Haliburton which then overcharged the Pentagon for those contracts. And he's rolled back civil liberties all over the place in the name of national security.

It'd be nice to be able to have campaign ads that speak toward the candidates' better qualities. But when so much of the american public is misinformed about the facts--thinking that Saddam Hussein sponsored the 9/11 hijackings, that WOMD were actually found in Iraq, that the economy is actually recovering and there are actually more jobs for americans--there has to be someone out there uncovering these fallacies. Negative ads are a necessity: they allow a person or group opposed to a particular policy or action to come out against it, not just for some candidate who's against it.

MoveOn.org isn't supporting any of the Democrats. They're opposing Bush's policies, and that's an example of out democracy at it's finest. People speaking out against bad policy.

If only they could get the air time to show their ad.
Feb. 1st, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC)
I don't disagree with the idea that they are trying to convey, nor do I disagree with how troublesome decisions made under the Dubya administration have been. And I have am extremely strong dislike for dogmatic defense/offense of a figure.

In regards to the private company vs. public airwaves, I find that is a tough call. I'll admit ignorance of the exact nature of the current FCC regulations, but at the same time I'm not sure they matter. In short, its the difference between normative and descriptive claims, and the way they are is not necessarily what they should be. And for myself, I really do not know which side of the issue I stand on, though my knee-jerk reaction is to side with the company on most matters. Of course, I make no pretense that my knee-jerk reaction is infallible, either.

I have no problem with advertising against a candidate or an issue intrinsically. My problem is when the line is crossed to where it's hollow yet visually and emotionally appealing images and words. I find the means at which they are trying to express the idea to be problematic. Despite my feelings on the issue, the images of children in such work conditions is triggers an emotional responce without actually evaluating what is going on. And that is the main problem I have with the ad and in a more general sense the state of most if not all political discussions. The content isn't there; it's rhetoric.

And honesty, by comparison, this is a drop in the bucket in that department. I would love to one day see discussions on gay marriage, gun control, abortion, affirmative action, the nature of church and state, everything!-- be done without resorting to the shields that have been adopted. However, as it stands I don't think free discussion of the issues are possible because people are not willing to discuss them. They want to argue (and not in the classic sense) and have crusades over them, but real discussions I find to be few and far between.
Feb. 1st, 2004 08:12 pm (UTC)
Ger, I have to disagree with you on the "children in such work conditions" issue. They aren't in bad working conditions - One's in a grocery store, ones in a factory work conditions exactly like an adult would today, etc. They don't look happy, but they aren't being hurt or anything. They're just working.

I don't think it's implying that in the future children will have to work to pay off our debt. It's allowing the viewer to make the connection between our children now and the immense amount of work they will be doing in the future (as adults) to work off our trillions of dollars of debt to our own country. That's what Bush is doing, borrowing from American tax dollars that haven't yet been paid, or social security that is supposed to be paid back to US. (I'm not really sure how that works, but that's my understanding.)

Feb. 1st, 2004 08:55 pm (UTC)
Touché. Somewhat.

I agree that its not implying that child labor is the future. On the other hand, they are trying to express what you said through the images of child labor. Seeing as how strongly the idea of child labor is deplored nowadays, on principle I have a problem with using the imagery to convey meaning because it does have a potent emotional response.

I agree it's not taking the idea too far (say, using sweatshop conditions), but its still muddy waters.

In short, it's not the validity of the issue the ad addresses that I question. It's what they are using, specifically why they are using instead of explaining matters like you just did.
Feb. 2nd, 2004 03:06 pm (UTC)
Well, I certainly understand where you're coming from, and it is important to explain the issue as clearly as possible, without the content is oversimplifying the issue for emotional effect.

I myself haven't decided whether or not the content is too emotionally voltile or not. However, I think that it would be very difficult to explain what I said in a 30 second commercial spot, AND keep the viewer's attention, AND have them remember it. So, what I would hope would come out of this isn't that people would immediately hate Bush or another negative outcome, but would be encouraged to look more into it.

Because Bush *is* spending at a rate of 2.5 times the Clinton administration and cutting taxes, so the goverment has no new revenue coming in. While it's nice to have taxes cut I think he's skirting his responsibility to make America financially secure in the future in this case. And it's very possible you and I and our kids will see the consequences. :( Buuuu. :(

Which is the other reason I like this commerical. It doesn't attack BUSH, it doens't say he's a bad man, it just attacks some of his financial policies. It sticks to the issue, not the person.
Feb. 2nd, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)
Good points on the issues of the viewer attention and memory. Though, I would say that ideally those shouldn't be factors, but then I'd be drifting even further into the realm of normative claims, so I'll stop there.

So given the status quo, I guess what you've said makes sense, and I can see it from that angle.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )