In the box above you should see the image of an ad with the headline “Medicare Part D Action Alert.” It comes through that way when I send to myself. If you do NOT see the image please “Reply” and let me know what device (and browser) you are using. That information will help me construct better posts.
The ad I posted above appeared as a half page in the Spokesman March 30, 2019. If you cannot see it click here to see the online generic version. It says it was paid for by the “American Action Network.” The generic online ad image stands ready to insert whichever congressperson the American Action Network wishes to give a boost. (A month ago, closer to the time the paper version appeared in the Spokesman, the online ad was not generic, it was a copy of the McMorris Rodgers ad.) The cost of placing such an ad in the Spokesman is subject to many variables, but was almost certainly in excess of $1000.
Notice the content. Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi are depicted in dark tones with red lettering and red “X”s marking statements of alleged malicious intent. Polling-tested Republican/Libertarian trigger words appear: “Government bureaucrats, interference, higher premiums, liberals”. No facts are offered. Similarly, there is no substance offered to support the assertion that the congressperson of the day, in this case McMorris Rodgers, is working for: “savings..affordable premiums..and access.” No bill numbers, no reference to a detailed policy position. In contrast to the dark upper half of the ad featuring unappealing countenances, McMorris Rodgers is presented as sweetness and light: a blue stripe with a bright photo of her signature toothy smile.
The ad is is an appeal to pure emotion at the most raw level: evil vs. good. It is fact-free pure emotional propaganda, meant to re-enforce prejudices long nurtured by right wing media. In Finland, teaching students to recognize and dismiss such propaganda is part of the basic public school curriculum, a curriculum designed to foster an informed electorate. We need a similar program here.
The American Action Network, the money and brains behind the ad, is a right wing “issue advocacy” non-profit with a 2017 balance sheet of 42 million dollars. It is organized as a 501(c)(4). Organized in this way, the American Action Network is able to hide the identity of its donors (although that is set to change after a 2018 Supreme Court case). Currently, FEC.gov offers no data on the donors to the American Action Network. Their funding is classic “Dark Money.”. How much more blatantly political must an ad be to avoid being labelled as “electioneering?” After all, this is hardly “issue advocacy,” it is blatant fact-free emotional propaganda.
I called 1-800-756-6191, as the ad requests. An automated digital voice at the American Action Network Hotline told me to “press 1” to connect with the capitol switchboard. (No doubt AAN is collecting statistics on the response to their ads.) Eventually I was connected to Matthew Cardenas in McMorris Rodgers’ Washington D.C. office. Matthew was understandably puzzled when I asked him how CMR was “protecting Medicare Part D” as the ad suggested. Finally, he gamely offered a link to an internet article posted on the “National Association of Chain Drug Stores” website as evidence of her efforts.
How convenient that thousands of dollars in “independent” expenditures are made by opaque political action committees to foster an impression and garner votes, even as assistants of the lauded representative are nearly clueless of the actions their employer is supposedly taking.
Ads like this one from the American Action Network ought to be seen as tainting the candidate not supporting them. Finland has the right idea.
Keep to the high ground,