Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Political Ads Are Slippery Evasions of Truth

Politics is an ugly, dirty business, a business where truth, in Winston Churchill’s marvelous phrase, is usually “attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in political TV ads, where the slippery evasions of marketing merge with the needs of ideology.

This week’s winner of the Lillian Hellman Memorial Prize for Mendacity (“Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the”—Mary McCarthy) is a new TV ad for the Obama campaign that the Washington Post, a liberal newspaper, gives four Pinocchios to.

The ad, for instance, describes Mitt Romney as a “corporate raider,” a phrase that brings to mind the Michael Douglas character, Gordon Gecko, in the movie Wall Street. But as the Post points out, corporate raiders are invariably adversaries of the management of the corporation they seek to control. Bain Capital was an ally, one that worked long-term with management to make the company more profitable for everyone, not just Bain Capital. As the Post’s Fact Checker writes,

In a previous life, The Fact Checker covered renowned corporate raiders such as Carl Icahn and his ilk. We also have closely studied Bain Capital and can find no examples that come close to this situation; its deals were done in close association with management. Indeed, Bain generally held onto its investments for four or five years, in contrast to the quick bust-em-ups of real corporate raiders. So calling Romney a “corporate raider” is a real stretch.

It’s not a real stretch, it’s a lie. The Obama campaign’s justification for the term? A single use of the phrase by a Reuter’s stringer that apparently got by the Reuter’s copyeditors.

One of the nice things about living in a deep-blue TV market is being spared ads like this by the thousands. A school classmate of mine who lives in Ohio was complaining at a reunion two weeks ago that his airwaves are already saturated with political ads. I expect that come October, he will be reading a lot of books. They may be an old-fashioned form of entertainment, but they are blissfully ad-free.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.