October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
JOHN STOSSEL DECONSTRUCTS the imbecility of presidential campaigns, and the media dupes who pump it out to the world.
Much of the blame for the stupidity of politics — and of the public — can be put down to the supremacy of the image: the rule of TV.
At least on the surface, some features of political ads seem to have improved. The earlier TV ads that Stossel covers, such as Lyndon Johnson’s cynical, shameless 1964 fear-porn spot against Barry Goldwater featuring a little girl, a daisy, and a nuclear explosion (minute 8:09); or Reagan’s “Morning in America” (9:30) or “Bear in the Woods” ads, barely concealed their base appeal to the lowest of human emotions. These ads give a glimpse into just how stupid the political elites took Americans to be. (But then — the ads are widely acknowledged as successful; so were the elites right?)
But that was then. Since that time, ads have become more sophisticated — seeming to put appeals to alleged fact in a more prominent (though not quite dominant) position. It almost seems to show an increasing respect for the intelligence of the voting public. (Or perhaps it shows that the political elites are employing other, darker arts of persuasion underneath the seeming veneer of almost-argument.)
In another segment of this episode, Stossel turns his camera on the campaign press corps (or as some of us observers like to call it — especially when it comes to their messianic coverage of Obama — the press “corpse”). A presidential campaign is an otherworldly cauldron of bizarreness (21:00) in which the same dumbed-down message is repeated by candidates endlessly; the pack of news repeaters is manipulated all day, herded about from place to place (even sent to the wrong city — as the Obama campaign infamously did in 2008 while Obama snuck off to meet with Hillary Clinton) and spoonfed a bland, mushy diet approved by campaign managers. No one eats or sleeps properly — repeaters included.