Moyers: How Money and the Media Are Shaping the 2012 Elections (And Why You Should be Watching the Fox News Debates)
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BILL MOYERS: Here's something else.
Let me play an ad that got a lot of attention still troubles me all these months later. This is an ad run by Karl Rove's super PAC against Elizabeth Warren who is a candidate for the Senate from Massachusetts running against Scott Brown. And we'll come back to them in just a moment, but the Karl Rove super PAC ran a couple of ads that turned out to be truly distorted and misrepresentative and even fraudulent.
ELIZABETH WARREN IN POLITICAL AD: This thing I’m going to promise is that I’m going to be a voice in the room on behalf of middle class families.
NARRATOR IN POLITICAL AD: Really? Congress had Warren oversee how your tax dollars were spent. Bailing out the same banks that helped cause the financial meltdown. Bailouts that help to pay big bonuses to bank executives, while middle class Americans lost out. Later, Warren on a charm offensive with some of the same banks that got bailed out. Tell Professor Warren, we need jobs, not more bailouts and bigger government.
BILL MOYERS: Those ads have been widely deconstructed and shown to be wrong or deceptive or outright untruthful. Elizabeth Warren didn't create TARP for example, the Republicans under Bush did. She didn't bail out the banks, Bush and Obama did. She didn't side with the big banks. She wanted to hold them accountable. Yet these people can lie about a candidate, they can lie about Scott Brown and get away with it.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: In Massachusetts you also had attack ads by third party groups against Scott Brown, one calling him Bobble-head Brown that made many of the same sorts of inappropriate inferences. And as a result Warren and Brown have reached a pact that is another solution to the problem.
They have asked that third party groups simply stay out of their race and they've created a penalty structure. So if a third party group comes in on behalf of one side that side will pay half of the amount that the super PAC or the third party group has paid for an ad into the charity of choice of the other candidate.
Now, the third party groups could still come in, but that kind of a pact increases the normative pressure on the groups to stay out. This was going to be a race in Massachusetts in which we were going to have third party war on each side. There was going to unprecedented amounts of money on each side against each of those candidates 'cause it's such an important symbolic seat.
That pact is a model for candidates in other states. And some candidates are exploring it in other states.
If this pact works it could become another kind of solution to a problem out there of third party air pollution.
BILL MOYERS: My friend, Normal Lear, awoke in a dream earlier this week and he wrote a piece that he's he said to a lot of us saying he wishes Obama would have a second thought, be born again on this and go to the public and say, "You know, I've changed my mind. We're going to fight this campaign on your donations, on your contributions, no big money, no super PACs." Norman says it could it could radically alter the environment in our country now if Obama changed his mind and said, "Let's do it the right way."
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: You can understand from the Obama campaign's perspective why they would not want to enter a playing field in which they are carrying a substantial disadvantage. And as a result I can understand the decision that was just made.