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Editorial: Stations Don’t Need Dirty Campaign Money

Apr 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

If we occasionally appear naive in this editorial space, it’s just a reflection of our idealism.
Case in point: North Carolina television stations are set to run political spots, paid for by the North Carolina Republican party, that demean the political process and insult the public’s intelligence. Isn’t that money stations should leave on the table?
The ads in question come in the guise of attack ads on Democratic contenders in the state’s gubernatorial race. But that’s a façade for the spots’ true purpose. They’re really an attack on presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The ads feature a video of Sen. Obama’s former pastor, the sputtering, ranting Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., damning America. It links the two men with the punch line, “Too extreme for North Carolina.”
Of course, negative ads can be extremely effective. But it seems that there should be a floor of some sort below which a station’s sense of decency compels it to reject ads.
In this case, the stations have just that sort of discretion. And as of this writing, WRAL-TV in Raleigh and WSOC-TV in Charlotte have done the right thing, rejecting the ads. More outlets should follow their lead.
Campaign laws permit stations to exercise discretion in non-federal races in terms of accepting ads based on content and when they play. In this case, the North Carolina Republicans, who disingenuously claim the ads are aimed at the state gubernatorial race and not the presidential campaign, have opened the door for stations to choose not to accept the ads.
So for stations, it boils down to how seriously they take their role as agents of the public interest, and whether the ad in question is so objectionable as to merit rejection.
The ad is the lowest kind of guilt-by-association dreck that most Americans would rather not see as part of the political discourse. The fact that it may not shock the conscience of most viewers is more a reflection of our degraded expectations than any qualities it may have. We’ve seen worse and will in the future, no doubt.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, has seen fit to condemn the ads and ask the state Republican party not to run them. Stations should take Sen. McCain’s advice, even if the state party won’t.
It is the most difficult thing for a station manager to turn down a windfall in an instance such as this. We would applaud any who choose that course.

9 Comments

  1. WRAL is one of my favorite television stations and it does not surprise me that they have chosen NOT to run this advertising garbage. One of the few stations in a sizeable TV market that is not owned by a large group or network, WRAL consistently “does the right thing” in their news coverage and community service. WRAL has a conscience and a backbone.
    Frankly, it is likely that any station that does not run this attack ad will lose any advertising revenue. But it is terrific that somewhere someone has said “Enough!” and “NO!”.

  2. John I am in a agreement with you it’s time for the media to get out of the hands of these cowards.

  3. I love to believe that media is free and unbiased; however, it is not so. I hate the fact that channel companies are manipulated into doing as those in higher power wish to do. For once, it would be nice to watch the news and actually see, a unbiased report. If you watch KTLA they’re too liberal, you watch fox, their too republican. If their was just one company setting an example by being unbiased and truly presenting the facts, a lot of citizens would be happy. So, in the end, these companies actions deserve great applaud. Not only for refusing to show those negative campaign videos but also for having intregity, that is something hard to find these days.

  4. As the year progresses and we find out who will be the Nominees, I expect the Campaigns to become more and more vicious. By the end of Summer most of the Ads shown on TV will be of the “Attack Ad” Variety, and with the way Commercials have infested each Program shown on Television these days, there will be more of them than ever before. Some will use their DVRs to Fast_Forward through these irratating bits of drivel, while others will push their “Mute” switch the second a Station breaks for Commercials. Other, like myself, will have completely disconnected their Television Sets from whatever source of programming they were hooked to, and sit back and enjoy DVDs of our favorate shows, devoid of any Advertising!

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