Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Campaign 2010 was ugly -- does the next one have to be?

If you felt like this year's campaign was uglier than previous ones, you were right. A stunning graphic in Sunday's New York Times shows how the percentage of negative advertising has risen steadily over the past six years, from below 30 percent in 2004 to 50 percent this year for pro-Democratic ads and 56 per cent for pro-Republican ads.

It would be interesting to examine any correlation between this statistic and the share of ads that are paid for by organizations not under the candidate's control -- and particularly by organizations that don't disclose their donors. (If anyone has seen such a study, please post a link for us.) The idea behind making candidates tell us that "I paid for this ad" was to force authors of scurrilous attacks to identify themselves -- and maybe reduce the number of scurrilous attacks. Now attackers can easily hide again.

There's a pretty easy fix Congress could make at least to require donor disclosure in time for the next election. Many Republicans have long said they're against limits on campaign contributions, but in favor of maximum transparency. Democrats should offer a clean bill in the lame duck session -- limited to disclosure provisions, with no attempts to control corporate speech -- to prove they mean it.

By Fred Hiatt  | November 2, 2010; 11:11 AM ET
Categories:  Hiatt  | Tags:  Fred Hiatt  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The madness of George Pataki
Next: Midterms will determine the fate of 'don't ask, don't tell'

Comments

don't know about any studies, but American Crossroads ads I have seen are absurd. If you listen to them, Democrats have gutted Medicare, taking $500 Billion in benefits from seniors, raised taxes, created the entire national debt, and worse. All lies.

Posted by: JoeT1 | November 2, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

We need a constitutional amendment to do the following:

1. Limit donations to political campaigns in any way, shape, or form to individual citizens only.
2. Restrict those donations to politicians that the citizen can vote for.
3. Restrict the amount each citizen is allowed to contribute to 1/10 of 1% of the average wage of the citizens in the town, county, district, state, or nation.
4. Prohibit any politician from using their own income or assets to run for office.
5. Prohibit the use of campaign funds for personal expenses, and prohibit a politician from giving any campaign funds to another politician.
6. Ban all organizations, corporations, unions for participating in the political process in any way, shape, or form.
7. Impose draconian punishments for violating any of these provisions.

Posted by: Chagasman | November 2, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I have a better idea. Let people decide if they want to listen to or ignore negative adds. Trying to hold back the tid is usually a waste of time.

Posted by: kchses1 | November 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Fred, the DISCLOSE act was about as clean as it gets, until they amended it to get Republican buy-in for the NRA. It still failed in the Senate due to Republican filibustering.

Grow up Hiatt. The bill was a good one, but it failed because of Republican obstructionism. And the reason they obstructed is because they know the big corporate money is on their side. Which is why you will NEVER see a bill pass until the rules are changed, or there's a 60 vote Democrat supermajority.

Posted by: dpc2003 | November 2, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Ugly? What ugly! So, illegitimate Barry labels 70% of country "enemy". He acted stupidly, again, is all. He tells us our place is in back of the bus. Just some mo' stupidly. He expropriates from US, and, gives to illegals: hey, get with it, it's ONE WORLD; he's not buying votes/stuffin' ballots, oh-no-sir-ee, he is community empowering. Which community, you ask? Just get to the back of the bus. Post racial? You betcha: the WaPo is as racial as it gets. What race? Well, Barry, white momma, white grand parents, picked black.

Posted by: craigslsst | November 2, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

You don't go far enough in analyzing why this campaign was so ugly, Mr. Hiatt. It's because the conservative dominated Supreme Court has the laughable opinion that corporations have rights. Wanna stop that nonsense? Vote Democratic and hope for a saner court in the near future.

Posted by: CardFan | November 2, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"There's a pretty easy fix Congress could make at least to require donor disclosure in time for the next election. Many Republicans have long said they're against limits on campaign contributions, but in favor of maximum transparency. "

Pretty naive of you, Fred. That was what the Repubs said BEFORE they were awash in anonymous money, and BEFORE the Supreme Court was in the tank for corporate control of elections.

Posted by: turningfool | November 2, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who noticed that ALL of the campaign ugliness came from the RIGHT?

Posted by: ceefer66 | November 2, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Having read about political campaigns since the beginning of our country; I find that the viciousness of the attack ads this year are still extremely tame compared with antics of previous decades and centuries campaigns. They are tiresome, but the best way to deal with them is to:

1. Check to see if they are factual or not.

2. Check to see if the sponsor has the courage to stand by their ad.

If it's not factual, or if the sponsors are hiding (a good indication that the ads are untrue), then the sponsors should be vulnerable to prosecution for libel and slander. Which means that they lose their anonymity. We do not need a Constitutional amendment for that. The laws already exist. They only need to be fairly, impartially, and consistently applied; with one addendum. No entity receiving funds from foreign sources for any purpose should be allowed to run any political advertisements, period.

If the Democratic or Republican parties, the NRA, the Better Business Bureau, the Wall Street Journal, etc. receives any money from any non-U.S. source, corporate or individual, they can not run any political ads. Punishable by seizure of that organization's current assets and imprisonment for the leadership of the organization for a period of 2 to 6 years. Repeat offense results in the organization being disbanded by the government.

Posted by: mhoust | November 2, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Am I the only one who noticed that ALL of the campaign ugliness came from the RIGHT?"

No, you must be the only one who wasn't paying attention, or only sees what they want to see.

See the ad against Fimian citing facts about his business and showing the rat coming out of the hole in the wall, ugly, but priceless! :)

Posted by: BEEPEE | November 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The pressing question is: as a result of the anticipated results, will the Post move toward the center?

Posted by: mtpeaks | November 2, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Now the Republicans are saying that I'm calling them enemies...."
No, they are not "saying" it, he actually called opponents of illegal immigration "enemies," and supporters of illegal immigration "friends. He thinks he has a communication problem, and he's right; he makes the mistake of communicating what he believes to the rest of us.
Obama, once again, is an embarrassment to the office of President.
Obozo the former president to be and current lame duck joke.

Posted by: Loxinabox | November 2, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Campaigns weren't ugly but the folks running sure were and some will get elected. We will see those that would have voted against portions of the civil rights act get elected; bigots get elected; candidates with utter disdain for an indepedent press get elected; birthers get elected; candidates who somehow actually believe that it would be ok for those disenfranchised or angry with their sitting government to rise up and use their second amendment rights get elected; candidates who would hire an illegal immigrant or alien (I don't care what term you use) and then discard them like so much trash when they get exposed as the hypocrites they are get elected; family values candidates who are unfaithful to their wives, patronize prostitutes, and through their actions violate the trust they supposedly have with their constituents get elected; --- so Mr Hiatt as ugly as this campaign has been the results will be far uglier.

Posted by: army164 | November 2, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm a registered Democrat who disagrees with many in my party who believe that the everyday voter is a naive rube. Rather than bumbling and gullible idiots, I believe that average citizens are fully capable of sifting through the rubbish offered in political ads and make wise decisions.

Posted by: ttctharvey | November 2, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse


The lame duck session should do a LOT OF THINGS.

Including extending tax cuts, EXCEPT for those for the rich.
And then, pass a big tax increase for the very rich.

THe zionist Washington Post won't like that. The rest of tn country will.

Posted by: whistling | November 2, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse


The lame duck session should do a LOT OF THINGS.

Including extending tax cuts, EXCEPT for those for the rich.
And then, pass a huge, big new tax increase for the very rich.

THe zionist Washington Post won't like that.

Posted by: whistling | November 2, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The content of political advertising and the wrestling-style posturing of candidates has made a mockery of the democratic system. How can anyone vote intelligently, if at all, when the candidates of both parties come off as 100% insane? I'm voting 'yes' on legalizing pot in California and to hell with the rest of those crackpots on the ballot.

Posted by: SoCal | November 2, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Here's a suggestion: Residency requirements for individual and PAC donors to congressional campaigns.

In other words, unless the PAC or person actualy resides in the state or district of the candidate, they can't give money to that candidate. They can give all the money they can to a candidate from their home state or district -- thus preserving their free speech rights.

But outsider money would be banned.

I bring this up because for months I have received pleas to donate to Sharron Angle -- even though I have never been to Nevada in my life. Nevadans should contribute to her campaign -- or Reid's. But not me or anybody else outside of the state.

Posted by: ablasko73 | November 2, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"A stunning graphic in Sunday's New York Times shows how the percentage of negative advertising has risen steadily over the past six years, from below 30 percent in 2004 to 50 percent this year for pro-Democratic ads and 56 per cent for pro-Republican ads."
*******************************

But what's missing here is the effect political radio and TV have had on discourse. As the right regularly reminds us all, they have 90% of the market for this medium, with millions of listeners, apparently including all the tea party noise-makers. And their stock-in-trade is nothing but negativity and fear.

The downfall of American politics is the commercialization and co-option of conservatives who are now certifiable idiots.

Posted by: abqcleve | November 2, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Now the Republicans are saying that I'm calling them enemies...."
No, they are not "saying" it, he actually called opponents of illegal immigration "enemies," and supporters of illegal immigration "friends. He thinks he has a communication problem, and he's right; he makes the mistake of communicating what he believes to the rest of us.
Obama, once again, is an embarassment to the office of President.

Posted by: Loxinabox | November 2, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I guess if people don't like the ads then they certainly should not watch them and maybe they should not vote for the candidate. That is a rational response.

But I do not see why that makes it necessary to censor free speach, or even discuss it. When it comes to television shows, there seems to be nothing in terms of violence, gore, dress, kinky sex that restrains the stories.

When you are willing to censor the pornographic content of the Internet -- at least restrict its access from the library -- that would be nice. But it still just does not justify in any way censoring political speech.

Posted by: krush01 | November 2, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah! Obama couldn't have been any nastier! I never thought I'd be an "enemy" of the President of the United States. Hmmm. Hmmm.

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I just clicked SUBMIT once! Is this like one of those voting machines that's not working?

Posted by: georges2 | November 2, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Consider the pathological liars Fred Hiatt employs on this once-great newspaper's op-ed page, and he has the gall to lament negative campaign ads. It's like a prostitute lamenting the decline of chastity. In fact, it IS a prostitute lamenting the decline of chastity. And that is not being negative; unlike Karl Rove's group, it is being honest.

Posted by: TruthtoPower4 | November 2, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Vice President Joe Biden overheard yesterday after only 200 people showed up to hear him speak in Delaware,

"It's Armageddon."

Posted by: LePauvrePapillon | November 2, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Democrats were the first to throw common decency under the bus during political campaigns: remember LBJs famous Daisy ad?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63h_v6uf0Ao

All I can say about this election to Democrats and their camp followers is "what goes around comes around," so relax and take it.

Posted by: greg3 | November 2, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Good idea. It's interesting to see the comments that are way off your basic proposition. Introduce such a bill and let's see who is for openness and who is not. On another subject, it's sad seeing all the pundits saying that it's all about the economy without following up with the obvious question: do the electorate trust the democrats to help fix the economy or do they feel that their actions harm the economy? Personally, I don't like the republican's ideas, i.e. tax cuts pay for themselves. But I also don't like democrats ramming through a needed health care bill without considering how to pay for it. The dumbest remark I've read this election season is the pundit who mentions that the health care bill has some things in it that the American people like. Duh! The criticism comes from pushing farther than the American people want, not from not wanting some form of health care reform.

Regards.

PS: Like an earlier commenter, I find it frustrating to read a comment from people claiming they're independent when they probably haven't voted for the other party since Hector was a pup.

Posted by: Fergie303 | November 2, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Republicans in favor of Maximum Transparency????

They're lying Fred Hiatt.

Lying through their teeth, and at the time they said it, it was during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Now that they have that "rogue" Karl Rove back in their corner and have had 2 years to figure out a way to raise millions of dollars in "secret" Corporate campaign donations by filing as a 501c, 'd', or 'e' organization, do you really think they want Maxim Transparency?

Nooooo, I don't think so.

The Tax Law needs to be changed in this area and so does the Federal Election Campaign Laws.

Hum, I wonder who creates and oversees the laws for both of these entities. Just asking?

Posted by: lcarter0311 | November 2, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

America is getting the politics it's people deserve. What we're seeing is what they respond to. It's becoming pointless to make any attempt at rational discourse. My only regret is that the GOP isn't taking enough seats to override vetoes in both houses. Two or four years of that is only thing that might be sufficient to make people look at something besides their 1040's. As it stands, they can all go to hell in a hand basket as far as I'm concerned, Democrats and Republicans alike. One side is filled with crazies and the other with cowards. Take your pick.

Posted by: st50taw | November 2, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The pressing question is: as a result of the anticipated results, will the Post move toward the center?
******************************************
Eric the Jerkwad Cantor is not the center.

Posted by: st50taw | November 2, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

is this guy joking? Seriously. Mr Hiatt, who controls the editorial pages on one of the nation's most influential news outlets has spent the last decade allowing dog excrement onto the pages of his paper and has the audacity to point his finger anywhere besides himself?

Fred, do us all a favor and go choke on your lying tongue.

Posted by: kuvasz | November 2, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

"Campaign 2010 was ugly"

I'm not a big fan of Nancy Pelosi, but do you have to get so personal?

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | November 2, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

As always I am at best-americanbusiness.com where I would be happy to tell Ombama and his mama where to go with the racist vote! Hold on tight to those tin hats a storm is coming your way!

Posted by: Loxinabox | November 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Now the Republicans are saying that I'm calling them enemies...."
No, they are not "saying" it, he actually called opponents of illegal immigration "enemies," and supporters of illegal immigration "friends. He thinks he has a communication problem, and he's right; he makes the mistake of communicating what he believes to the rest of us.
Obama, once again, is an embarrassment to the office of President. As always you can contact me at work http://www.usa-businessreview.com where we are laughing at the tin hats that thought Obama's enemies didn't know how to vote.

Posted by: Loxinabox | November 3, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company