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Who Buys Political Advertising Airtime in South Florida?

August 27, 2012

Do the Democrats have any money for political ads on South Florida TV stations?  The question occurred to me as my attention ebbed and flowed while watching the endless—largely fluff-filled—television coverage of Tropical Storm Isaac, which reinforced my earlier impression that the Republicans utterly dominate the airwaves when it comes to political advertising.

Of course, I don’t normally watch TV all the time, and I can’t provide firm statistics, but my unscientific impression is that there are probably ten Romney ads for every Obama one.  The ad that appears with nauseating frequency is this one from the pro-Romney “Restore Our Future.”

In the ad, Restore Our Future—whose very name is semantic nonsense—cobbles together a stew of non-sequiturs, misleading claims, and outright falsehoods, but the message is that Romney comes from the private sector and is therefore a “job creator” while Obama is a bumbling amateur who wasted taxpayer money on the stimulus while sending the economy down the drain.

I have seen only one Obama ad which addresses the Republicans’ crusade against Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade, and it airs very infrequently.  There is nothing that counters the economic claims in the Restore Our Future ad.

But the one that really caught my eye was this one from Karl Rove’s “Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies” which is directed against incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.  It seems to be on constantly now.

The ad is total bullshit in which virtually every element is misleading or a bald-faced lie.  It ostensibly calls on the senator to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which Nelson supported, because it is “hurting seniors”, but of course it’s really calling on seniors to vote against Bill Nelson.  You don’t expect truth or fairness from Karl Rove, but my main point here is that I haven’t seen one single ad in support of Bill Nelson.

I don’t know if these ads are effective or not, but I think they must have some impact, particularly among “low information voters” who don’t bother or don’t care to find out the facts.  The simple repetition of lies or half-truths eventually makes them part of the atmosphere, particularly when they are constantly pounded into your head by Fox News and conservative radio bloviators.  This helps explain the stubbornly persistent belief among an astonishingly large number of Americans that Obama is a Muslim and was born outside the US.

As a side note, when my power went out as Isaac approached South Florida, I tried to tune in a news station on my ancient transistor AM radio.  But all I found were Spanish-language religious programming and the virulent anti-Obama radio talk shows that my mother keeps on as a kind of aural wallpaper.

I think seniors are particularly susceptible to this kind of propaganda, which is especially pernicious because it basically turns the facts upside down.  If my mother is any example, once you get seniors believing that the Republicans are trying to save Medicare, no appeal to reality has a chance.  The ads cleverly address a Republican weakness by, essentially, lying about their actual agenda and claiming to be the savior of institutions they really want to destroy.

Both Restore Our Future and Crossroads GPS are super PACs, which means that corporate and individual contributions to them have no limits because they can’t legally contribute directly to candidates’ campaigns or political parties and are supposedly “independently-expenditure only committees”.  There is supposed to be a firewall between the campaigns and the super PACs, but that’s transparent hogwash.  They are creatures of the Roberts Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizen’s United decision that released a tsunami of money from corporations and the super-rich into the US political system.  And as the saying goes, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics”.

I’m not privy to DNC election strategy, but it seems very dangerous for the Democrats to cede the airwaves in South Florida to the GOP, which according to everything I’ve been reading lately, has a huge advantage in fundraising.  Maybe the DNC has a barrage of new ads they’re preparing to unleash, but if they have any hope for winning the Florida electoral votes, the Democrats need to win big in South Florida.  If the Democrats don’t have the money to spend, and can’t win—or at least fight—the propaganda battle in the media, their chances of winning in ballot box are not good.

Money will have talked—with forked tongue.

From → Politics

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