Howard Kurtz provides a rundown of the negative campaign ads flying back and forth between Bill Simon and Gray Davis in the California race for governor. Going negative, or fighting back negatively, is traditional politics. While it would be nice to suppose that candidates should elevate their discourse to some higher level during a campaign, the fact is such a state has never been realized in the American experience. Prior to the Jacksonian era, candidates did not campaign. Party-affiliated newspapers did that. And they got nasty. In fact, today we are polite, even wimpy, by comparison. While people claim to dislike negative campaigning, as Kurtz says, “there’s a ton of evidence [academic and otherwise] that [negative ads] move numbers.” There is even credible evidence demonstrating that taking the high road against a negative campaigner is a recipe for failure. Yes, people do hate negative campaigning…when it negatively affects their candidate.
The Rhetorica Network
I offer commentary on the rhetoric of the American conversation, especially as it unfolds in documentary film, the news media, and politics. Check out my feeds on Twitter and Instagram. Also be sure to see my work at Carbon Trace Productions, a non-profit documentary film studio in Springfield, Missouri. I am a Professor of Media & Journalism at Missouri State University. I teach classes in mobile journalism and documentary filmmaking.
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