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This year’s record of $2 billion spent on political ads brought a fetid stream of venom to our air waves, which one reporter called “a carnival of ugly.”
In Wisconsin, Democrat Ron Kind was lambasted with a lurid, pays-for-sex ad from his Republican challenger, complete with “XXX” stamped across Ron’s face. The spot claimed that Kind had voted to spend taxpayer money to study “the masturbation habits of old men” and to “pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies.” Not true. Kind had merely voted against a bill that would have halted any scientific sex studies by the National Institutes of Health.
In New York, Democrat Michael Arcuri was hit by a GOP ad accusing him of calling a phone-sex line and charging it to taxpayers. Arcuri is depicted as leering at a woman who says, “Hi, sexy. You’ve reached the live, one-on-one fantasy line.” Only… Arcuri hadn’t made the call at all. An aide dialed the 800-sex line by mistake, trying to call a state agency that had almost the same number. Records show that the aide immediately hung up on the porn line and redialed the agency.
Then there’s the infamous racist bit against Tennessee Democrat Harold Ford, a black man running for the senate. Using a winking, scantily-clad white woman to suggest interracial sex, the ad blasted Ford for attending a Playboy party at last year’s Super Bowl. Well, Ford did go to the party – but not alone. He was one of 3,000 guests there, fully-clothed. Stung by criticism, the GOP withdrew the Playboy ad – replacing it with one declaring that Ford “wants to give the abortion pill to schoolchildren.”
This is Jim Hightower saying… And that’s the state of our democratic dialogue in 2006. And that’s why a Gallop poll reports that 70 percent of Americans believe “not much” or “nothing at all” of what they hear in political ads.
“The Year of Playing Dirtier,” Washington Post, October 27, 2006.
“Sex scandals nag candidates,” Austin American-Statesman, October 22, 2006.
“TV Election ads show how low you can go,” Austin American-Statesman, November 1, 2006.
“In Tight Senate Race, Attack Ad On Black Candidate Stirs Furor,” The New York Times, October 25, 2006.
“Rove Protégé Behind Racy Tennessee Ad,” CBS News, October 26, 2006.
“Digging to new depths for dirt,” The Australian, October 28, 2006.
“Nasty ads close out a mud-caked campaign,” USA Today, November 3, 2006.