Hogan ads unfairly portrayed Jealous as fearful, un-American
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.