Negative Advertisement in Presidential Campaigns
The article “Decision 2004: The war for the White House” offers a similar picture of what is currently happen in this 2008 presidential election campaign. Both campaigns had engaged into a war of negative advertisement between the presidential candidates. However, during this current election a shift has occurred thanks to more technology accessibility for the people. Now more people can make a direct contribution to this political campaign war by sharing their opinions and creating content throughout blogs, social networks and video sites. This way, shifting the power toward people and taking it away from corporate media’s agendas.
This article presented various incidents in which Bush and Kerry attacked each other. There were questions about Kerry’s Vietnam record and there were also questions about Bush missing years in the Air National Guard. According to this article, the corporate media didn’t provide the same treatment to both (Bush and Kerry) presidential candidates in regards to these claims “When harsh charges were leveled against George W. bush, by contrast, the corporate media would air the charges in the now standard “he said, he said” format” (pp 167). Then when CBS tried to air what happen with Bush missing years, the corporate media shifted gears and focused their attention to what they called CBS deceitful claims instead of focusing in the presidential campaign, which was very harmful to Kerry’s campaign.
Presidential election campaign 2008 is not different from the one in 2004. Both McCain and Obama have created negative advertisement against each other. However, now corporate media can’t solely decide where the attention goes to create a constructed reality for the audience (people/voters) as it did in 2004. This time corporate media had to face the power that social media tools have given to the audience. For example, a claim was made by McCain’s campaign team about Obama’s connection with terrorists in hopes that the media focus shifted toward this issue instead of the campaign. However, contrary to what happened in 2004, the focus of media didn’t shift as it was expected. Thanks to the increase of technology accessibility for people and the creation of new media tools. As a result, a massive participation of bloggers, social network participants and content creators against McCain’s claim exploded, taking the focus back to the campaign and away from false claims made against Obama.
This last example opposes to a claim made in the article “Explaining the Adoption of Web Campaigning Practices” in which is stated that “internet would have minimal impact on politics” (pp 169). The impact that internet has had in this election is beyond doubt. Thanks to web creators, participants and volunteers, the claim that Obama had a connection with terrorist didn’t shift the attention of the corporate media, because the audience didn’t let that happened. This time more people in the audience had access to internet and they seek the truth through other venues, corporate media was not the only option anymore. This way showing that internet indeed had a major impact on politics.
In addition, the current presidential campaign presented other similar aspects that occurred in the 2004 campaign in terms of the debates and candidates criticism made by corporate media. For example, part of the negative advertisement from corporate media was the claim of which candidate had won the debate accompanied by negative criticism about the candidate that according to them had lost. In 2004, the number of people who had access to internet and technology was less than in 2008 (Internet World Stats). Thanks to accessibility increase, less people (voters) relied on corporate media and more on alternative media like bloggers and social network peer opinions.
In conclusion, social media tools have shifted the power from corporate media toward people. Before people relied on corporate media to obtain information about the presidential candidates, which sometimes was manipulated by corporate media’s political agenda. Presidential candidates continue attacking each other as part of their campaigns during this 2008 election, but now people has access to alternative media which allows them to have access to non-corporate media information about the presidential candidates.