While all political advertisements are interesting and have a plethora of information that could analyzed, I believe that in order to get some sort of understanding of where this entire phenomenon has come from looking at one of the older advertisements available and compare it to one of the newer ones. In order to keep it somewhat scientific, I will compare two from the same party.
Using the living room candidate website, I first looked at the election of 1952 and the campaign ran by Adlai Stevenson against Dwight Eisenhower. With his advertisement “I Love the Gov” we see a very interesting strategy being used by Stevenson. In what seems to be only one shot, a young women lays down a catchy tune about how Adlai has been successful in the state of Illinois and will translate that success to the rest of the union. What strikes me as most interesting s there is mudslinging going on even in the early age of TV political ads. Everyone today knows that ethics in campaigns runs on a very fine line but even for someone like me who may be a little too confident in his understanding of mid-20th century politics, this struck me as a shocking inclusion in the advertisement. While this ad may have blown my mind, it certainly did not do much to sway over public opinion as Eisenhower destroyed Stevenson 442-89.
In comparison I looked at the 2012 Barrack Obama video “47 percent”. This mudslinging advertisement is distinctly the benefactor of improved technology but regardless of that fact it holds a much somber tone then anything Stevenson ran. Obama’s campaign utilized several people of several different ethnic backgrounds, ages and sexes. The use of a diverse populace allows the viewer to think that supporters of Obama are from all walks of humanity. This is a clear strategy by the campaign as Democrat’s typically corner the market when it comes voters from different races. Overall, I find it fascinating how TV advertisements have become a giant tool in how a candidacy is ran and can be a defining part of any candidates run towards the white house.
Passing judgment on any person is a difficult task to do. When that person is in the public sphere and subject to words being taken out of context, that judgement becomes even harder to execute. Based on this, my analysis of the Dan Rather situation needs not to be taken as the end all be all and rather one interpretation of an undoubtedly complicated situation.
In the run up to the 2004 election between John Kerry and George W Bush, Dan Rather on 60 minutes aired a segment about Bush’s service in the Air National Guard. During that report several documents claiming to be from the desk of Lieutenant Colonel Killian, were utilized to show how Bush was unable to complete his service. Over the next week, the authenticity of the documents were questioned online and were picked up by media outlets. In response, CBS ran a for the record that included Killian’s secretary who confirmed that documents were in fact false but the information was not.
So what can we take away from the actions of Dan Rather and his interview with Killian’s secretary? Based off what we learned in class, we see that sometimes a journalist can falsify crucial information in order to get the perfect story. It seems to me that Rather is in that boat. Rather has been noted as having a strong liberal bias and without questioning his ethical composition, anyone in that situation could have been suspect to taking documents that may have been falsified in order to strengthen his story. However, what seems to be most likely to me is that an anonymous source gave him the true information, as confirmed by Kilian’s secretary, and in an effort to legitimize it either the source itself or whoever was working with Rather decided to create a document. In application it seems to me that if it was Rather who helped create the document he is guilty of unethical journalistic actions whilst attempting to bolster a political position. Regardless of what someone believes when you are in the positon of someone like Dan Rather you can not utilize a questionable document for any reason.