Negative campaigning against Democrats: that’s Good, bring it on. But when Republicans turn attack ads on each other: all of a sudden, attack ads are BAD. And last night, Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin got kind of worried about them.
On O’Reilly’s "Back of the Book" segment, Palin (posed prettily against a woodland lake which is presumably meant to represent Alaska) discussed the possibility that attack ads by Republicans against other Republicans – which they referred to as “brutality” - would help Obama. As indeed they might.
Palin, the Gingrich supporter (who pretends otherwise), was particularly distressed that Romney’s better-financed campaign gave him an advantage over her guy. “What we just witnessed in Florida that brutality via $17 million in negative ads in a 65-to-1 negative ad ratio that was mounted against Newt Gingrich, which I think did result in him falling there in the polls and in that primary.” What should be done about it? Americans, she said, should “aggressively and ambitiously do our own homework … because we cannot rely on the media, the establishment, the super PACs and candidates who hide behind the super PACs to tell us what the truth is about these candidates.”
O’Reilly’s response: “Well, OK, but people who watch this program listen to talk radio, read the newspapers…. But that's not the majority of the American people. And the majority of voters will be -- and I'm not being condescending; I'm being realistic -- ill-informed. And they're going to pick up, just as the voters in Florida did, trends on television.”
(Please excuse your humble servant - I’m about to roll on the floor in a fit of hysterics. Given repeated studies showing how misinformed Fox viewers are on issues, the irony is just too much to take. There, that’s better. Back to the blog.)
O’Reilly then asked Palin how she deals with attacks, given that so many of them have been directed at her. “Well, I hope that they, like I am able to do, keep priorities straight and right and know what really matters. At the end of the day what matters to me is my faith, my family, and my freedom as an American. So all that other stuff on the periphery, you know, it can just kind of go away…. But I do feel for others. And I do understand why American voters seem to be a bit more disenchanted with the whole process today, because they see the brutality.”
Really? As if it wasn’t conservatives who turned that kind of “brutality” into an art form? And wasn’t it conservatives, by and large, who praised the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, two years ago, that paved the way for SuperPACs? Now, we’re starting to see the consequences of that decision: whoever can raise the most money has the advantage, and since attack ads are so effective, they won’t hesitate to spend their gazillions on using them to demolish the rivals du jour, whatever party they belong to. If the right didn’t see that coming, gentle reader, they should go back to thinking school.