Friday, July 4, 2014


We flatter ourselves by declaring we do not believe everything we hear on TV and Radio. We adamantly reinforce this thought with statements such as, “This is ‘common knowledge” or “Everyone knows that”. However, we all know, with equal certainty, that advertising works, which means we tend to believe some of what we hear. The sad truth is that they we tend to believe enough of what they hear to be dangerously misled. Advertizing agencies have perfected their skills to the point that they can call your attention to an ad and package the false information in it in such a way that it is believable. Among the techniques is the repeated issuing of the same information; we see the exact same ad time after time.  Another way is to dress the ad in terms that appeal to certain prospective buyers; colorful cartoon time ads aimed at young children, for example, or a deep gruff voice proclaiming how tough a certain pickup truck modal is while showing the driver pulling a huge load of logs or a gun rack in the rear window.  The simple expedient of playing the ad louder than regular programming works well as an attention getter. These ads are usually associated with the promotion of some type of product or service: the power of positive thinking.

However, there is another type of ad perfected by #Karl Rove, the personal attack ad. Years ago Rove, working for a local politician, accidently stumbled onto the idea that people vote on politicians’ negatives. Karl Rove discovered that negative attitudes toward a politician have a power influence on their voting and advertizing works to build these negatives; the power of negative thinking. Using this thought, he developed a stellar career as a political consultant: how many other political scientists (?) do you know who are multimillionaires? He shepherded George W. Bush into office twice with deceitful advertizing aimed at building opponents “negatives”; it even worked the second time after an unbelievable disastrous first term. The obvious conclusion is that in people’s minds, negatives are even more powerful than positives attitudes. All a person has to do to see how pervasive the Rove induced anomaly in political advertizing has become is to consider that poll after poll headlines results based on a certain politician’s positives verses his or her negatives and not his or her position of an issue. The later is often not even mentioned.

An easy example of how implied negatives works is to examine Roves’ statement that Hillary Clinton suffered brain damage when she fainted and hit her head. This is all-true and at the time was all over the news; she did fall and she did do damage to her brain. Roves’ implication is that she is no longer a viable candidate to be president. An even more damaging example has to do with the public perception of the success of Obama’s presidency. When scholars examine what he has done as president, it is clear he is the best president we have ever had. He is bringing peace to a world more troubled than it has ever been. Domestically, He has had to fight a totally negative lock-step Republican vote that controls the House of Representatives; they no longer represent the people in their districts rather they represent the GOP. Nothing they have done makes sense, unless you look at it through Karl Roves eyes. They have built the “negatives” to the point that they have turned our government and our President into something people hate. The public approval rating (poll) indicates both the government and Obama’s negatives are much higher than the positives. The House of Representative’s approval is at around 8% meaning the negatives are 92% and the President Obama’s approval rating is as low as it has ever been.

Think about that; the president single handedly has done absolutely everything that government has accomplished and the House of Representatives has done absolutely nothing, yet media wrath falls on Obama. You should be curious to know why the President’s ratings so low? Turn on Fox TV, listen to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, or go to the internet and read Facebook post after Facebook post. Hate Obama, impeach Obama, hate the government, hate the IRS, and even hate Michelle’s vegetable garden. Hate, hate, hate anything associated with Obama or government seems to be effective advertizing because the polls show it is working. As I noted above, if you say it enough people believe it.

All you hear are advertisements aimed at building Obama’s negatives but seldom even a mention of the negatives about the House of Representatives. That is the new form of the Rove inspired distortion in political advertizing at work, coupled with the new form of political media—the social media. Why are Obama’s approval ratings so low and Cheerio Breakfast cereal so high? I will answer the question with a question; have you ever seen a negative ad about how Cheerios are made of the same ingredients for which pig feed is made? Did I mention that pollsters are telling us the Republicans are going to control the Senate and the House of Representatives after 2014 because the President’s ratings as so low. If that happens, are you going to be the first in line to congratulate Rove on his success, for what we let him do to our democracy?  

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