Skip to content

Political Ads are designed to be vague, deceptive and to misinform the public: Part III

September 27, 2022

In Part I, we discussed some of the larger reasons why political ads are so offensive. We talked about how journalism has failed us on election coverage and how candidates center themselves instead of the community or issues that people care about.

In Part II, we looked at an attack ad that was paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, which was attacked the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Scholten. This video ad use deceptive images and  a misleading narrative, most of which was not based in fact.

In today’s post, we want to look at print ads, specifically ads one would receive at their homes, like the ones pictured here below.

First, it is worth pointing out, that when you contribute to political candidates, particularly at the State and Federal level, most of their campaign funds are spent on advertising. Political ads, as we have pointed out in the first two parts of this series, are inherently misleading and they often utilize deceptive imagery and narratives. Political advertising should be abolished, then we could allow every candidate the same amount of time to present their platform and voting record on broadcast TV and radio. This, of course, is unlikely to happen, since radio and TV stations rely heavily on political ads for revenue.

Now, lets look at some of the vague language used in a few of the ads I received at home in the mail, specifically ads from candidates David LaGrand and Mark Huizenga, who are running against each other for a State Senate seat, and Rachel Hood and Lynn Afendoulis, who are running for a State Representative seat. 

In the two ads I received having to do with LaGrand and Huizenga, the Huizenga ad was paid for by the Michigan Republican Party and the LaGrand ad was paid for by the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee. The LaGrand ad is focused on public safety, with the tag line being, For David LaGrand, keeping us safe is never a partisan issue. Here the Democrats want to present LaGrand as someone who “reaches across the isle,” always wanting to be bipartisan. 

When it comes to public safety, the ad provides 3 talking points – more funding for police, eliminating the cash bail system and rehabilitating low-level offenders to reenter the workforce. The first talking point is misleading, since there is no evidence that more funding/more hiring of cops leads to greater public safety. We encourage readers to check out a recent report from the group Interrupting Criminalization, entitled, Cops Don’t Stop Violence. Getting rid of the cash bail system is certainly a positive step, but there is a great deal more to be done to dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex. On the matter of getting ex-offenders back to work, this is an issue the Capitalists like the Koch brothers to the DeVos family salute, because they are in need a workers, particularly low wage workers. In fact, the West Michigan Policy Forum held a conference last year on this very topic. Lastly, it is important to point out that the LaGrand ad had no souring on it, so people would have a hard time verifying the claims made on the print ad.

The Huizenga ad, chose to go the route of comparing Huizenga to LaGrand, with the claim that LaGrand has voted on his that negatively impact Michigan families. The images used are also unflattering to LaGrand, using a black background, whereas the Huizenga images are in color and much brighter. This technique is pretty common, but it should be offensive to any free thinking person. 

The three talking points for the Huizenga print ad are – income taxes, American energy independence and property and other taxes. Huizenga clearly is trying to present himself as being better on economic issues that LaGrand, but these are only a few economic issues and one cannot make an informed decision on such a narrow spectrum. One could easily argue that both Huizenga and LaGrand to not support working families, since neither of them is advocating for a $20 – $25 an hour minimum wage in Michigan. This would be more of a living wage for people/families, but such political ads avoid discussing things like a living wage or narrowing the wealth gap. One positive note on the Huizenga ad was that the talking points are sources, so at least people could verify the claims.

The other two print political ads were about Rachel Hood and Lynn Afendoulis. The ad from Hood was paid for by the Michigan Democratic Party and was a 4 sided fold-over ad. The front cover had a large beer glass on it, highlighting the restaurant bar that Hood owns with her husband. On the inside pages the tag line is, State Rep. Rachel Hood is a brewery owner who understands what matters to Kent County families. There are three major themes included in the content: helping families and small businesses deal with rising costs, Supporting men and women in uniform, and keep the water safe and clean. There are no sources to substantiate the claims about Hood. 

The ad for Afendoulis, which is paid for by the Committee to Elect Lynn Afendoulis, is similar to the Huizenga ad, where Afendoulis juxtaposes her policies with Hood, primarily economic policies – income taxes and gas taxes. The ad has a darker image of Hood with a Black background and a color image of Afendoulis with a white background. 

In the end, none of these ads provide much substantive information on voting records or campaign platforms. Both of the Democratic candidate ads have no sourcing for their claims, but the Republicans do. The Democrat ads we looked at only talk about their candidates, whereas the GOP ads made comparisons to their opponent. All of these ads used vague language and campaign buzzwords like family, high prices, taxes and public safety, yet offered little on what those things mean in the real world, especially to families that are struggling to survive. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: