Unfiltered • 9 March 2008 • The SnowBlog
Just a little political observation about negative campaigning. Personally, whenever I hear a political story I try to ask myself, why now? Because in many cases, similar stories go unreported. There's usually a reason for a particular narrative or theme emerging. I'm thinking especially of the way editorials all over the world are discussing how negative the Obama vs. Clinton race is becoming and what a problem that is. In 2004, the networks all picked up the fake Swift Boat story of John Kerry not really being a Vietnam hero. This wasn't seen as a negative campaign tactic. Of course that was partly because it wasn't directly a product of the incumbent's campaign - but neither were the indirect links to the campaign widely reported. Moreover the story had no substance and yet the news organisations didn't dispel the claims until later, they just reported them. Unfounded accusations were slung in that contest and somehow they successfully cast doubt on the fitness of the accused. But now it's 2008, and both front-runners are Democrats, and as well as the mud sticking, the act of slinging it is seen as simultaneously backfiring on the accuser. It's about the only way to portray two strong Democratic candidates as a bad thing: claim that they're destroying each other and their own integrity with their ugly campaigning. Most of the time in negative campaigns it's the slur that gets reported, but when it's Democrat on Democrat, suddenly the tactic is seen as backfiring. But the truth is that negative campaigning works extremely well, providing the media play along. Just watch what the news corporations do when a pro-corporate candidate tries slinging a little mud. I've said it many times before, but you can't expect global news organisations, who depend for their existence on pro-corporate legislation, to be even-handed when it comes to losing their allies in government.