Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Truth In Political Advertising? There Ought To Be A Law - Or Not. (Meanwhile, may I suggest

From: The "Sad But True" File:

Believe It Or Not ~ Despite The Fact That The Federal Government Instituted/Enforces Laws Meant To Protect Consumers From Being Duped By False Advertising Of Products... There aren't any federal laws which protect Americans from being duped by false advertising about political candidates.

One might, reasonably, think that creating/enforcing laws meant to protect American citizens from from being duped - via political ads which are chock full o' lies, half-truths and misrepresentations - into voting for those candidates whom are far from the best man/woman for the job... would be more important than protecting them from self-proclaimed "psychics" or dolls that don't do what is claimed in ads.

The concept is a "no-brainer"... or is it?

Turns out, the single reason there aren't any federally-instituted laws against false political ads and the few state-issued ones have been difficult to enforce is the First Amendment To The U.S. Constitution: - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. -

As I discovered on the political fact-finding site, TV stations are permitted to refuse ads from political groups for any reason. The same is not true of candidates - unless stations refuse ads from all of the candidates for a specific office. Accepting an ad from one candidate means that, legally, they must accept the ads from that candidates opponents. The only exceptions: for technical issues (too long or too brief to fit into commercial break-slots, or unacceptable recording quality) or for content considered "obscene." That a candidate’s ad is false is simply not a legally-protected justification for rejecting it.

"The very idea of self-government rests on the idea that voters — given enough uncensored information — can best decide who should be in power and who should not. So, free speech applies first and foremost to candidates. So, states have found it hard to enact laws against false political advertising — and even harder to make them work."

What does this mean to you, me and every other American voter? That, at least legally, it’s up to each of us to figure out who’s lying and who’s telling the Truth in the 2010 campaign and in every political campaign.

"Nobody said Democracy was supposed to be easy."

Helping Americans with this task is one of the primary duties of trustworthy news organizations. (Thankfully, our First Amendment guarantees a Free Press as well as Free Speech.) is one of those news organizations that works hard to help.  They seek out, uncover and reveal for all to see what is True and what is False in political ads, emails and in statements made by politicians - irrespective of political party.

They take an in-depth look at the truth-in-political-advertising issue (including several court cases) in "False Ads: There Oughta Be A Law!... Or Maybe Not.".



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