"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Thursday, April 24, 2008

MSNBC: Falls for One of the "Oldest Tricks in Politics"

This story has been in the "hourly loop" playing during MSNBC's "The Place for Politics" daytime coverage. There's a new anti-Obama ad (in addition to the abysmal NC State GOP one "denounced" by McCain yesterday) being peddled by the creator of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad. I say "peddled" because there has been no "buy."

Oh, but no worries. MSNBC (and I'm sure the other 24-7 cable outlets) have decided to hawk what these fearmongers are shelling out for free.

The ad shows scenes from a desolate urban streetscape with tag lines saying "Tamika McFadden-Harris: Murdered shielding her daughter. Mike Boyd: Beaten with bricks in gang attacks." These are shown on the TeeVee screen as Contessa Brewer dutifully reads from the teleprompter:
A conservative third party group led by infamous ad man Floyd Brown claims Senator Obama is weak on street gangs and will be just as easy with terrorists. Well, here's the catch: Brown does not have a single ad buy in any TV market. Instead of paying for airtime, he just announces this in a press release for outlets like YouTube to pick up."
Contessa introduces the segment's talking heads (Craig Gordon from Newsday and Jonathan Allen from CQPolitics.com) and without even a hint of self-awareness, Contessa pivots to Gordon and asks:

"OK, so, Craig, is this a new way to get your ad covered without buying any time?

Craig (laughing) says, "Uh, it's actually one of the oldest tricks in politics where you, uh, even, even respectable campaigns will do this sometimes. Where they will announce an ad. They'll show the reporters. They'll be very vague about how much money they're going to spend putting it on the air. We all write about it. You put it on your TV networks and they've - voila! they've got their ad out there.

So, it's actually kind of an old trick that folks use sometime. Obviously, it's a pretty controversial topic for an ad. And we're talking about it here today so he's probably accomplished what he hoped to accomplish."

Come on, MSNBC. You don't even have to have a long memory to remember when Huckabee pulled this stunt. One of the reasons these "tricks" work is because the media enables and promotes them.

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