Ho­gan ads un­fairly por­trayed Jeal­ous as fear­ful, un-Amer­i­can

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - Howard Bluth, Bal­ti­more

The al­ways as­tute David Zu­rawik rightly noted that the Ho­gan cam­paign’s treat­ment of Ben Jeal­ous on TV in Mary­land was “bru­tal” (“Ho­gan’s me­dia cam­paign has been text­book; can any­thing de­rail it now?” Nov. 5).

It was also vile, not only in terms of the lan­guage used (”TOO EX­TREME TOO RISKY”), but in terms of the dark and grainy vis­ual im­ages that de­picted Mr. Jeal­ous as lit­tle more than a dan­ger­ous gang­ster.

Im­plicit in Mr. Zu­rawik’s es­say is that all po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tis­ing on TV, like all other ad­ver­tis­ing, is fo­cused solely on the viewer’s emo­tion, not his or her rea­son. Mr. Ho­gan’s cam­paign ex­perts were master­ful in tak­ing ad­van­tage of this ploy. Their use of the lat­est vis­ual tech­nol­ogy, cou­pled with out-of-state money fil­tered through the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, bought so much screen time that the Jeal­ous cam­paign was over be­fore it be­gan.

What needs to be made ex­plicit is the sheer con­tempt these po­lit­i­cal me­dia mavens have for vot­ers, whose psy­ches are im­printed with im­ages that char­ac­ter­ize po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents as fear­ful and unAmer­i­can, rather than fel­low-cit­i­zens with dif­fer­ing view­points.

It’s all ra­tio­nal­ized with ar­gu­ments like “neg­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing seems to work,” but the ef­fects are cu­mu­la­tive, and there’s no ques­tion that the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sys­tem has be­come coarser and coarser, in large part be­cause of all the neg­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing and daily name-call­ing that has in­fected our democ­racy.

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