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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Suggestion to MSNBC: Stop Taking Money for Scurrilous GOP Ads

I said this on Twitter earlier tonight, but thought it deserved a slightly longer screed here on my blog: Suggestion to MSNBC: why don't you stop being so greedy, and stop taking money for scurrilous anti-Hillary Clinton GOP ads.

The ad that occasioned this tweet aired on MSNBC right after Rachel Maddow's superb interview of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and her endorsement of Hillary for President.  You likely have seen it, and I'm not going to give it any more currency by posting it or a link to it here.  But in case you haven't, it's been around for a little while, and intercuts Bill Clinton dissembling about Monica Lewinsky and Hillary explaining what happened with her email when she was Secretary of State.

The ad is classic false association propaganda, a term first introduced by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis to explain what happened in Nazi Germany more than half a century ago.  What Bill Clinton did and said about Monica literally has nothing whatsoever in common with Hillary's explanation of her private email server (and, by the way, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice's staff also used private mail when they were Secretaries of State).  The only thing that Bill's very nuanced explanation about his sexual activity has to do with Hillary's straightforward explanation of her email server is the two people in question were and are married.

So why did MSNBC take money for and play this textbook example of propaganda?  My colleague Bob Blechman provided the historical explanation in response to my tweet: he pointed out that CBS shifted its news operation from a cost- to a profit-making division decades ago, and all other commercial broadcast media followed suit.

I think it would be a very healthy development for our body politic if news media stopped doing that. Either that, or maybe I'll resort to DVR'ing all the news I see on TV, watch it a minute after it's been broadcast, and delete any Republican garbage in the form of lying ads that may appear.

PS - Some people may say that refusing to broadcast a given ad is a violation of the First Amendment, or, more generally, freedom of speech.  It's not.  The First Amendment guarantees the right of media and any individual from broadcasting, printing, or saying whatever they want.  It does not insist that media or the press must broadcast a given ad - a decision that is entirely the press's prerogative.

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