Hogan ads unfairly portray Jealous as fearful, un-American

The always astute David Zurawik rightly notes that the Hogan campaign's treatment of Ben Jealous on TV in Maryland has been "brutal" (“Hogan's media campaign has been textbook; can anything derail it now?”, Nov. 5).

It was also vile, not only in terms of the language used ("TOO EXTREME TOO RISKY"), but in terms of the dark and grainy visual images that depicted Mr. Jealous as little more than a dangerous gangster.

Implicit in Mr. Zurawik's essay is that all political advertising on TV, like all other advertising, is focused solely on the viewer's emotion, not his or her reason. Mr. Hogan's campaign experts were masterful in taking advantage of this ploy. Their use of the latest visual technology, coupled with out-of-state money filtered through the Republican Governor's Association, bought so much screen time that the Jealous campaign was over before it began.

Even Mr. Zurawik had to grudgingly concede that "Purely in terms of using the media to run an effective campaign, you cannot help but applaud what Hogan and the RGA did."

What needs to be made explicit is the sheer contempt these political media mavens have for voters, whose psyches are imprinted with images that characterize political opponents as fearful and un-American, rather than fellow-citizens with differing viewpoints.

It's all rationalized with arguments like "negative advertising seems to work," but the effects are cumulative, and there's no question that the American political system has become coarser and coarser, in large part because of all the negative advertising and daily name-calling that has infected our democracy.

There is little to suggest that this terrible state of affairs will change anytime in the near future.

Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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