Should Media Outlets be required to Fact Check Political Advertising?

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Just a thought concerning the way election campaigns have been run for centuries, and how little they have come over the years. How much different would elections be if misleading, disingenous, and false campaign advertising was rejected by companies who run them.

It would probably have to be done through legislation, though it would be nice to see the industry police itself. The important issues are often muddied and buried in lieu of focusing on certain issues that are distortions most of the time.

Should this be something that people should start calling for?

What impact do you think it would have?

What legal issues do you think would be invoked to try and stop something like this?
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
What legal issues do you think would be invoked to try and stop something like this?
the first amendment would be invoked immediately.

as much as i like the idea of campaigns being truthful, the only real antidote is an informed public. once lies and smear tactics stop swaying the polls, the tactics will stop.

you may have noticed that fox news recently won a ruling in florida which said, in effect, there is no law saying fox news has to report the truth. there is a thread about it here.
 

Xtremehkr

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I thought the same...

But, plenty of things on Television are regulated for public safety and welfare. The FAA regulates all sort of content, movies are rated for content. Perhaps political ads could be rated for honesty.

There are plenty of precedents set for regulating something that has a major impact on important Democratic elections.

Fox offers one example of a company that has gotten away with that. But that doesn't mean that people cannot make that happen if they felt it were important enough. I mean, how long have people been discussing how dishonest politics are. If it is just going to be talk and no action, why bother discussing it at all.
 

pseudobrit

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Jul 23, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
But, plenty of things on Television are regulated for public safety and welfare.
The truth is that surprisingly little is regulated given the fact that the airwaves belong to the public and are provided to the broadcasters free.

The FAA regulates all sort of content,
I should hope they'd stick to air travel.

movies are rated for content.
By the MPAA, a trade association. Ratings are optional.

Perhaps political ads could be rated for honesty.
As pointed out above, news doesn't legally have to be true, so how would you enforce legal standards on paid political advertising?

There are plenty of precedents set for regulating something that has a major impact on important Democratic elections.
Right, as long as they don't preclude upholding the Constitution.

Any ratings system would have to be voluntary.
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Astute in catching slopiness but managed to miss the point entirely...

Ok, make that the FCC, and then add the FAA as an example of a body that regulates the airways for safety and efficiency.

The MPAA is an example of the industry regulating itself so that the government does not, which is what the news media re not doing.


Right, as long as they don't preclude upholding the Constitution.
The Constitution is interpreted in a number of different ways, but a term that comes through a lot is "ordered liberty." That is the ideal balance between freedom and regulation in order to stop a minority from opressing a majority.

This is why we can have things like Morality Laws, which are technically considered unconstitutional as anything pertaining to religion should not be involved.

Or speed limits, or drug laws, or regulation of guns and other weapons, including concealed weapons laws.

Are you against honesty in politics? Do you honestly think that it is a good system we have now where candidates campaign for months on little more than lies and misleading claims? Are you suggesting that it is better this way?

It's good for media outlets to be able to lie?

Media outlets, to a large degree use airwaves that are owned by the public, it would be very easy to say that they are required to provide factual election information.

Though I would like to hear your reasoning for why this would be a terrible idea?
 

pseudobrit

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Jul 23, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
It's good for media outlets to be able to lie?
Yes. It's bad when they do it, but it's good that they're able to do it.

Why this would be a terrible idea? Because it's censorship. Not just indecency stuff that the FCC manages to muck with (which I happen to think is something they should stay out of), but out-and-out censorship.

Because the arts (of which broadcast journalism is a contingent) require a looser interpretation of truth than say, engineering, it's antithetical to try to force such a distinct line of true and false on this type of medium.

Furthermore, the instant (or at least relatively quick) nature of broadcast TV wouldn't allow a review of the "facts" presented on every TV show or ad.

What would we do exactly? Fine anchors who misspeak or misunderstand?
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
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Considering how long scam infomercials sit on the air before the FTC yanks them, it's doubtful a short run political ad will get the "honesty test"

(I can think of one of the them run by local snake oil guru Joe Deihl, who ran Don Lapre's Making Money infomercial long after Don Lapre's company went bankrupt)

Look how long the herbal penis pill was on as a regular tv commercial before the FTC stepped on it, heck I think they even sponsored a NASCAR team.

If you ask tv station to filter political ads, what about the rest of them.
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Oh ok

Yes. It's bad when they do it, but it's good that they're able to do it.

Why this would be a terrible idea? Because it's censorship. Not just indecency stuff that the FCC manages to muck with (which I happen to think is something they should stay out of), but out-and-out censorship.
How is it censorship? I would say that there is a big difference between censoring speech and protecting lying. There are libel laws in existence, as well as slander laws. Not all speech is protected, I see no advantage in protecting a media outlets ability to lie. Either that or reclassify them as what they are, which would not be news.

I don't know where you stand politically but I can't fathom why it is more important for media outlets to be able to lie then to hold them to some factual standard.

Let's not make this any broader than what it is, I am talking about election ads. Specifically ones that are running right now which have been shown to be false and misleading.

I'm not really convinced by your justification. They can say whatever they like, as long as they are not lying. It's setting a standard.

Unless you don't mind being lied to, that would be one person who did not support it.

Yes, there have been many complaints about the FTC, but they are woefully underfunded and the marketplace is swamped with scam artists. With the current balance of power in government at the moment that is not likely to get any better for a while.

Because the arts (of which broadcast journalism is a contingent) require a looser interpretation of truth than say, engineering, it's antithetical to try to force such a distinct line of true and false on this type of medium.
Now that is patently false in regards to what I am saying. I am talking about ad campaigns that are knowingly misleading. The only purpose of those ads is to smear the other candidate. It is what everyone complains about election cycle after election cycle and yet nothing is done about it.

If you want to talk about standards in broadcasting, in a broad sense, that is a different thread.
 

Xtremehkr

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Not really

Furthermore, the instant (or at least relatively quick) nature of broadcast TV wouldn't allow a review of the "facts" presented on every TV show or ad.
Most misleading ads are found to be misleading before they hit the air. Look at the other thread concerning a documentary coming out about Kerry from a conservative leaning group. Most ads are announced before they hit the air. You're being about as honest as one of those ads right now. Maybe you like those tactics, I don't know.
 

stoid

macrumors 601
I think that any censorship should be left up to the networks. When I see false or misleading content in any media of mass communication, I blame the broadcaster/publisher. Networks should be left to censor, and those that do a poor job will lose viewers because they broadcast that stuff.

You as a viewer have a choice what, if anything, you watch on TV, and I think that we are losing sight of this. Just like fast food, you the consumer, have the choice what you buy. It's not the fault of McDonald's if you can't curtail your diet and get fat, and it's not the fault of TV stations if you can't be an informed individual and you naively assume that politicians are telling the whole truth about anything, ever. Politicians lie, that's just what they do. If they told the truth, you probably wouldn't vote for them!

The only question I have about this November is why we can't find anyone better for the job of Commander and Chief. Are these two men truly the best this great nation has to offer? Is it just that no one really wants the position of President? Surely there is someone better for the job that just isn't running.
 

Xtremehkr

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The "Documentary" in question...

The Sinclair Group


Would it be that devasting to the right if they were required to be honest in politics?

Isn't that what they have been promising to restore to the White House for decades now?
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Accuracy v. Censorship

It's rather funny to see conservatives defending censorship. Considering the battle that Howard Stern is fighting right now, and the new fines that have been mandated through Colin Powells son.

Are there any other reasons why people would not want more honesty in politics?

Seriously, this has a huge impact on how the country is run, surely something should be held to a higher standard.

If you lie in court it is perjury, and most of the time, that is minor compared to electing a President.

Why do we have censorship in our judicial system?

If a person lies to get into office, that is ok with you?
 

pseudobrit

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Xtremehkr said:
Seriously, this has a huge impact on how the country is run, surely something should be held to a higher standard.
It's up to the American people to be well informed. If they don't know how to do that, they deserve whomever they elect.

If you lie in court it is perjury, and most of the time, that is minor compared to electing a President.
You take an oath before you testify.

Why do we have censorship in our judicial system?
You have taken an oath; you are not censored. You may say whatever you like. If you are later found to have lied, you will be held accountable for breaking the oath in a legal setting by the law.

Similarly, someone who lies in the public realm should be held accountable by the public.

If a person lies to get into office, that is ok with you?
Yes, because the voters who elected her didn't bother to do their research and inform themselves. They deserve the liar they elected.
 

pseudobrit

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The problem with your argument, Xtremehkr, is that the truth is subjective and relative. Does the Bush campaign tell lies? I think so, but they do it without directly lying.

So what would we do?

You're the one with the proposal, so you need to tell us how such a system would work. Would there be truth judges?
 

stoid

macrumors 601
pseudobrit said:
It's up to the American people to be well informed. If they don't know how to do that, they deserve whomever they elect.

<snip>

Yes, because the voters who elected her didn't bother to do their research and inform themselves. They deserve the liar they elected.
Exactly. This isn't Kindergarten anymore, you have to take the initiative to find fact from fallacy, no one should be holding your hand. This is what the founding fathers feared, an uneducated, unmotivated public that will accept whatever horse manure is fed them without bothering to check the facts.
 

solvs

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Jun 25, 2002
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To be fair Michael Moore did the same thing, though he did make some good points. So it happens on both sides.

The problem isn't that they neccessarily lie. It's that they use one side of the truth, or pieces of something, or opinions, to sway you to their side of the argument. Like having vetrans who never served with Kerry, or wifes of vetrans, telling you why they think he is so bad vs. actual evidence of what he did in Vietnam. Or a recent political ad run locally taking part of what one candidate's opponent said when talking about understanding terrorism, making it seem like they were pro-Bin Laden. It was disgusting, and after watching it made me immediately want to vote for the person and against the guy running the ad.

That's what you have to do. Look at the facts, and decide for yourself. This being the land of free speech, we are left up to our own devices to decide if what we see it valid or not. What's important (unfortunetly) seems to be who can better convince you how bad the other guy (or gal) is, instead of how good they are or what they can really do. The opposing candidate can then defend themselves and/or attack their opponent. But then, for better or worse, it's ultimately up to the viewers and voters.

That's probably why we get the leaders we do. We have to police ourselves with journalism and political activism. Regulation probably wouldn't change that anyway.
 

blackfox

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Feb 18, 2003
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stoid said:
Exactly. This isn't Kindergarten anymore, you have to take the initiative to find fact from fallacy, no one should be holding your hand. This is what the founding fathers feared, an uneducated, unmotivated public that will accept whatever horse manure is fed them without bothering to check the facts.
For some reason that scenario seems very familiar...I guess I am lucky enough to be living "la vida loca"...

Perhaps it has always been this way. I'll tell you, however, it is frustrating being the one-eyed man in the land of the blind...I try hard to keep abreast of issues and discern fact from fiction, but as I am sure most of you on these forums have gathered, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed and a pretty poor arguer.

So the irony is that because I cannot present my (often valid and well-researched) points in a manner to compete with, say FOX News, or even a well-spoken debater who happens to have his/her facts wrong, my argument and it's sources are often dismissed out-of-hand.

I think I need to hire someone...
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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blackfox said:
So the irony is that because I cannot present my (often valid and well-researched) points in a manner to compete with, say FOX News, or even a well-spoken debater who happens to have his/her facts wrong, my argument and it's sources are often dismissed out-of-hand.

I think I need to hire someone...

The key is often to repeat the case of your oponent back without the buzzphrasing. It's quite easy, when carefully worded to make their case quite plainly self serving or false when it's "unspun" and repeated back with neutral language and no inherent attack. It also helps to be able to provide their immediate stock retorts with a bit of humor to effectively cut off their linguistic retreat. :D
 

Xtremehkr

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Jul 4, 2004
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Not the liars fault but the fault of those being lied to?

From what I am understanding, the justification is because the audience are not informed, it is their fault. Even if the number of unbiased media outlets are going the way of the Dodo.

More succinctly, it is not the liars fault but the fault of those being lied to, those being lied to should get informed so that when they are lied to they know better? When the purpose of the media, using public airwaves, is to inform people.

This article outlines how the public airwaves are supposed to be in the best interest of the public. It links to a Supreme Court decision that outlines this policy.

(ii) The right to impart and receive information is a species of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. A citizen has a fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving information and as such to have an access to telecasting for the purpose. However, this right to have an access to telecasting has limitations on account of the use of the public property, Viz., the airwaves, involved in the exercise of the right and can be controlled and regulated by the public authority. This limitation imposed by the nature of the public property involved in the use of the electronic media is in addition to the restriction imposed on the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution.
And as it states there is already limits to what can be said and since the public airwaves are meant to be "in the publics interest," it is a weak argument to claim that lying to the public is perfectly acceptable.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much enforcement of this lately. People have come to rely on television for news and entertainment, reliable information makes for a stronger democracy, doesn't it?
 

pseudobrit

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Jul 23, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
This article outlines how the public airwaves are supposed to be in the best interest of the public. It links to a Supreme Court decision that outlines this policy.

And as it states there is already limits to what can be said and since the public airwaves are meant to be "in the publics interest," it is a weak argument to claim that lying to the public is perfectly acceptable.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much enforcement of this lately. People have come to rely on television for news and entertainment, reliable information makes for a stronger democracy, doesn't it?
What does the Supreme Court of India have to do with the United States' airwaves?
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
why are grown men resorting to rumor spreading and tall tales?
because it works.

let's test an edge case. let's say the bush campaign came out w/ an ad saying that kerry killed mother theresa and then cut her up w/ a hacksaw. further, on one his many trips to the moon, kerry met alien leaders and conspired to 1) eliminate all Campbell soup products, and 2) construct a land bridge between south carolina and the ivory coast.

would anyone believe that ad? probably not, because the american public is informed enough to know it's a load of bull. so in that case, do we need some mechanism to "protect" the american public?