“Who, Me? Naw, This Megaphone Is Just a Prop”

Campaign Desk had a good, gallows-humor-type chuckle when we saw this stunningly un-self-aware headline on Tom Raum’s Associated Press piece yesterday:

“Negative Attacks Often Prove Effective.”

Were it not for pesky wire service word limits, we’re sure that the second half of the headline would have read something like:

“…Thanks in No Small Measure to News Outlets Such as Cable TV — and Us.”

Raum reports that “while politicians decry negative advertising and personal attacks, the bottom line is that such tactics often work.” Yeah, they work particularly well on the press, in the sense that the attackers are guaranteed hours of “free media” — the endless discussion and dissection by the press corps that campaign pros know that their mud-slinging will generate.

For example, Raum observes, “the allegations that Kerry lied about his Vietnam war service — claims made in a book by one of the group’s leaders and in interviews as well as in ads — have dominated the presidential race for more than a week.”

Gee, why do you suppose it is that these allegations “dominated” the election discourse at the expense of issues of current import?

We’re waiting for the day that the campaign press confesses to its own role in the attack ads’ success — and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.