How 'bout them negative ads? Do they work? Depressingly, yes.
"Politics is about putting your best foot forward and putting the other person in the worst light," Mr. Goldstein said. "Do we expect someone who's advertising to say, `You know, I really don't want to put this person's record in the worst light because that's not fair'?"That's an interview with one of the people behind Annenberg's FactCheck.org. FactCheck has an e-mail subscription service, by the way; if you're not on it, you're in danger of being misled by phony claims from both sides (maybe even three sides, if Nader gets enough money to advertise!).
Dana Milbank and Jim VandeHei have a remarkable study of the advertising done by the Kerry and Bush campaigns in Saturday's Post.
They itemize a whole slew of recent ads by the Bushies against Kerry, and then say this:
The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.
Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.
The assault on Kerry is multi-tiered: It involves television ads, news releases, Web sites and e-mail, and statements by Bush spokesmen and surrogates -- all coordinated to drive home the message that Kerry has equivocated and "flip-flopped" on Iraq, support for the military, taxes, education and other matters.
But Bush has outdone Kerry in the number of untruths, in part because Bush has leveled so many specific charges (and Kerry has such a lengthy voting record), but also because Kerry has learned from the troubles caused by Al Gore's misstatements in 2000. "The balance of misleading claims tips to Bush," Jamieson said, "in part because the Kerry team has been more careful."
Milbank and VandeHei have been meticulous, and they conclude that the Bush campaign is by far the most egregious offender of the two in the "lies, deceptions, and misstatements" sweepstakes. They also find some corroboration for my thought that President Bush can't run on his record because it's universally awful.Posted by Linkmeister at May 31, 2004 10:38 PM