A few days ago, Susan King, dean of UNC Chapel Hill’s Journalism School, called for transparency in political ads, a request that has been on the table before, as Steven Waldman broke down back in December.
In late 2011 and early 2012, the Iowa caucus cycle produced 24/7 campaign ads, and some reports indicate that local television broadcasters in the state earned $18 million in campaign advertising. I believe that it is in the interest of the community and the larger political audience to know exactly what a station has earned in an election campaign cycle and to know who purchased those ads. Transparency is the issue here. (via TV News Check)
FJP: Let’s look a little closer at the who question.
This is the first presidential election in which Americans will be inundated with television advertisements aired by Super Political Action Committees. Often negative, these ads frequently mislead voters, provide little or no information, are often inaccurate and reveal the media’s unclean hands when it comes to undermining democracy, observers warn. And it’s about to get worse. The involvement of Super PACs in the 2012 Republican primary contest has skyrocketed with a 1,600 percent increase in interest-group sponsored ads aired as compared to 2008. (via Poynter)
Though super PACs cannot legally coordinate with a candidate’s campaign, past connections to a candidate are likely. But they are big players and as reported by Reuters, they will make broadcasters a lot of money. For more information, see the Free Press’s recent report, Citizens Inundated, in which Timothy Karr writes,
Short of stopping the DVR and freeze-framing the faint disclaimer line at the end of the commercials, there is very little to help consumers differentiate Super PAC ads from those sponsored by candidates.
FJP: On that note, see these tips on how to watch Super PAC ads: