Posted by: emmajoyce | October 29, 2012

Attack, keep it simple, and create opposition.

The New Yorker article “The Lie Factory” by Jill Lepore explores with great insight a rather frightening history of American political campaigning in relation to advertising, consulting, and lobbying. It should be deemed frightening because of the manipulation, distortion, and conceit that have been woven into campaigns, with due credit to Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter of Campaigns, Inc.

Looking through this historical lens and at the present-day election afoot, it is easy to see how binary oppositions have made it extremely difficult for a third party to legitimately contend. People understand things in terms of good vs. bad, us vs. them, me vs. he.

In order to execute this juxtaposition, Campaigns Inc. identified these effective strategies:

Make it personal: candidates are easier to sell than issues.

Keep it simple. Rhyming’s good.

Never explain anything.

Say the same thing over and over again.

Put on a show.

Take a look at these two ads in which one of Obama’s sentences has been extracted and its meaning manipulated by Americans For Prosperity and the super PAC Restore Our Future.

Think about Romney’s “binders” and “Big Bird” social media craze.

If instant communication reduces campaigns to slogans, people to icons, and words to soundbites, how can journalists who want to bring authenticity, ethics, and accountability to reporting compete with the flashy show of modern media?

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