prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

I’m Sam Ebersole, and I approve this message.

Posted by prof e on September 22, 2008

Vote for Sam!

Vote for Sam!

Have you ever wondered why nearly every radio and television political ad contains the line, “I’m so-and-so and I approve this message”? Well, wonder no longer. It is required by law. According to the “Stand By Your Ad” provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) aka the McCain-Feingold Act, candidates must indicate responsibility for a spot by using this disclaimer. This is intended to cut down on attack ads in general, and outrageous claims in particular. Also, in order for a candidate to receive the lowest-unit-charge when purchasing TV/Cable airtime, an image of the candidate must appear in the commercial spot and a statement of approval must appear on screen and remain for a minimum of four seconds.

The unintended consequence of this legislation has been the raising and spending of soft money by so-called “527 organizations” or PACs (Political Action Committees) who are free to create and distribute political ads that do the candidates’ dirty work while giving the appearance of being independent. These spots are often funded by partisan organizations with such innocuous sounding names as, Colorado First Project, or Democracy for America. Because we live in a “swing state” in the 2008 elections, we’re seeing and hearing more than our fair share of political ads and will continue to do so for about 5 more weeks. But look on the bright side–the political TV spots are crowding out the normal lineup of ads for Frank “the strong arm” Azar and erectile dysfunction medications!

Sources: The Campaign Finance Guide, Political 101, and Open Secrets


10 Responses to “I’m Sam Ebersole, and I approve this message.”

  1. Alicia Beaver said

    As a matter of fact, yes, I have always wondered why every political ad contained that line. I figured it was a way to let viewers know that the candidate themselves actually supported the advertisement. If the BCRA wasn’t created, I think it would be harder to discriminate between a candidate’s intended advertisement commercial and an unintended attack against a candidate. I have noticed that almost on every single commercial break, one or more political ad from either McCain or Obama has been aired. I enjoy these commercials because it’s pretty much like a game, to see who can find the biggest dirt on the other or who can come up with the better come-back. I think that using these commercial advertisements is a good strategy during the election because many people use television as their main source of information, so by feeding the viewers these attack ads, the viewers are learning about the candidates.

  2. Alex Timmons said

    The attack ads don’t really let viewers know who a candidate is, but they do frame a candidates’ image in a way that serves the the interests of the advertiser. Anyone with any sense doesn’t rely soley on television ads for an assessment of a given candidate, but that’s not to say that still a lot of folks don’t adopt the messages as their opinion on matters of pertinence. Attack advertising is a very effective communication tactic in that it clearly works — but it’s underhanded and deceptive to say the least. PR practitioners and Advertisers rely heavily on the apathy and sheepishness of viewers — in other words — lazy idiots who don’t research ideas on their own, and who already hold a bias and are willing will accept the message at face value.

    [I enjoy these commercials because it’s pretty much like a game, to see who can find the biggest dirt on the other or who can come up with the better come-back.]

    The ads are intentionally designed to elicit emotional response, especially arousal, with thoughtfulness as only a secondary attribute. It has indeed become a game, a boxing match even, and it demonstrates beautifully the state of American democracy. This is sad evidence that far too many people no longer understand that democracy demands participation; instead dumb-asses opt for spectatorship. Don’t blame the media though, blame the mirror that is the media.

  3. Catrysse Gomez said

    The “political spots” are not as informatitive as they let off. They are simply legal media bias blackmail. The approval messages following the information have no need seeing how during a heated election the only people that would be bashing the opposing candidate would be of course his opponent and their campain company. The part that I think is funny is that the approval spots that inform you that it is the “Democratic Society” or “Republicans of America” are doing so to take the slack for the candidates when really they have no need to. Do you really believe that McCain is out and about telling his campain that Obama is the reason gas prices are so high? Do you believe he thinks Obama is a celebrity? His campain is the real reason these things are being said. Most candidates can barely write their own speeches much less come up with a political spot. When really the spot should be required to have a 4 second spot saying “Don’t blame me, my campain manager thinks that.”

  4. Ben Igberaese said

    the “Stand By Your Ad” provision is a good idea because it filters out the some of the “trickery” in political tv and gives the public the refined information which in most cases turns out to be an all out brawl of words between candidates and instead of the viewers to become more enlightened on most of the candidates views and opinions in real world issues, it becomes a comedy sketch on who can dig up more dirt on the other.

  5. Alex Timmons said

    [Do you really believe that McCain is out and about telling his campain that Obama is the reason gas prices are so high? Do you believe he thinks Obama is a celebrity? His campain is the real reason these things are being said.]

    Whoa, this is a pretty simplistic statement. If you think John Mccain is such a pushover that he would allow simple minions to tell him how to conduct his campaign you’re either very young or not a good judge of character. Mccain has now let loose all the dogs and is rallying the villagers. America’s favorite hillbilly sidekick, Sarah Palin, is using the highly incendiary rhettoric of a modern-day kkklansman. She may as well have been wearing a white sheet and hood rather than that bright white business suit during the tension filled speech she gave yesterday. She has all but told the villagers to light the torches and grab the pitchforks. Seems a niger needs a lynchin, and Mccain and Palin are consciously willing to incite the mob.

    Sure, Mccain has advisers, strategists and tacticians, but the overall campaign is a reflection of how Mccain’s mind operates — erratic, mean-spirited and highly tense. It’s no secret that Mccain has acted on the advise of surrogates like the infamous Carl Rove, but Mccain has publicly defended most of the tacky claims made directly by or on behalf of his campaign. His hillbilly Egor, Sarah Palin, aka pitbull-with-lipstick, has taken direction well, and she is more than over-zealous when it comes to spouting some of the hateful garbage Mccain and his campaign minions have implanted into her tiny mongrel brain.

    John Mccain and Hillary Clinton are the same type of politician in this sense — they know how the old-school political game is played. These types of tactics started to work for Clinton late in the primaries, when they were competing in the whitest states. the difference between Mccain and Clinton is that Mccain doesn’t know the difference between a strategy and a tactic, and his campaign has struggled to find cohesion.

    Obama’s campaign has had to sling some mud too, make no mistake, but the composure, poise and integrity with which Barack Obama has conducted himself is unlike any politician this country has seen in my 31 years. In truth, Obama has no choice but to conduct himself in such a careful manner. America has shifted from a country of explicit racism to implicit racism — especially since 9/11. Obama has handily defeated all rivals with verve and intellect in every arena. His policies may not be perfect, too idealistic perhaps, but he is far more thoughtful as a matter of character than any other politician who ran for election this season. From stump speeches to town hall meetings, Obama has proven to be far more formidable thany anybody I’ve spoken with ever imagined. If he loses, it will only be because of his ethnicity.

  6. Edward Garcia said

    I have always wondered why they say that in their commercials. They’re not always always that great though. The four second minimum is all the candidates seem to be a part of. They’ll say their line and it will either show a picture of them or they’ll be sitting down smiling at the camera delivering their lines. These messages aren’t always by their candidates though. If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, they also have their fair share of mock ad campaigns. They would feature something on their show and it would end with I’m (fill in name here) and I approve this message. Of course, it’s used for a comedic effect, but you never know who might believe it to be the real thing. Below is the url to a video from The Colbert Report.–her-story

  7. Kyle Morehouse said

    I to have wondered why candidates in all kinds of political races have had to say this. It is very interesting that it is an actual law as well. I also find these adds interesting due to the fact that at least 80% of the time, these statements are true. Also to see what one candidate has to say about the other is intriguing. Even though these adds are sometimes over played, they can also help you decide on who you think is a better candidate.

  8. Lindsay Reeves said

    I think it’s quite amusing that congressmen would believe having a political candidate claim responsibility for the advertisements they produce would cut down on attack ads. Just finishing voting in my very first election, I definitely paid attention to every ad I saw on television this voting cycle, and even though I can’t say that I’ve had much experience in political campaigns, it sure seemed like there were a lot of attack ads. It seemed like every time I turned on the TV, instead of Barack Obama or John McCain telling of their plans for our desperate nation, all they ever did was tell how their opposing candidate wasn’t going to do what was right. It was definitely true that the Frank Azar type ads were cut to a minimum, but come on. Are we not educated people to decide for our own who we will vote for? Do we really need all the hate ads when we are struggling as badly as we are right now? I think these candidates need to focus on how they will help the country, and as the saying goes, “May the best man win.”

  9. David Laird MCCNM 101 said

    I think that it is a brilliant idea for congressmen and presidential candidates to use the other independent firms to do a little of the dirty work, it makes for an interesting outlook into American politics from a broadcasters standpoint. This basically tells us as a nation that our President Elect of today and all presidents in the past have committed illegal money deals with these independent organizations and the middle man of the whole job to pollute voters minds with slander and bogus thoughts are broadcasters for airing them and auctioning off the time to do so to the highest bidder. It’s brilliant, no wonder broadcasters out of all citizens are happy to see election years come around.

  10. John Young said

    I couldn’t Imagine what It would be like during political season without laws like this in place. I don’t know If I could take all the extra adds from anyone and everyone with money who has something say. It would be non stop bashing from both sides. If anyone could make the ads you would have people getting there money saved up to make a add that they my not even know is true.

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