Almost any newspaper, television station and social media venue will sell advertising – to anybody. How many media outlets in this nation have the resources to investigate every or any would-be advertising purchaser? What if the advertiser wants to spend one million dollars through your local television station? What if they want to spend it through a global media outlet like Facebook or Twitter? This is precisely what happened during the past Presidential election. People connected to Russia bought advertising to the tune of 1.2 million dollars per month on social media sites.
We’ve read and heard that fake advertising agencies conspired to buy the advertising and were even promised 15 percent of Twitter’s total available ads at one point. Another story cited that 350 different ads were purchased by “people” connected to Russia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the details early last year of an alleged widespread and coordinated campaign by Russians to influence the U.S. Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. We also learned last year that ads were purchased against Hillary Clinton and also in favor of Bernie Sanders.
Media outlets across the planet employ people and often on commission to sell advertising. If someone calls a small town paper and wants to buy $50,000 worth of advertising, who is going to turn it down? We can move this up to small network television stations or even national networks such as NBC, CBS or ABC or CNN or Fox … etc. The stations survive, thrive or die based on advertising revenue. Any political action committee in America can send someone with a briefcase and a check to meet with the ‘Sales Manager’ of whatever entity and walk out with bought advertising.
Throughout our country, candidates are receiving lots of money from political action committees from other states. In 2012 Preston Bates and John Ramsey of Texas, via their Super Pac pumped $900,000 into Thomas Massie’s Northern Kentucky Congressional campaign running mostly negative ads about his opponents … Massie won.
This is America and we have freedom of speech and freedom to use all kinds of weird ads for and against political candidates. Most of us are tired of the political ads. How many of us believe half of what we see and hear in political ads aired on TV or viewed on the Internet? We doubt most of what we read, hear and see especially when the ads are condemning a political opponent. Yet, even in a non-Presidential season last fall the dollars spent were staggering. Broadcast television advertising was 3.5 billion and over 1.7 billion was spent on digital advertising – primarily Facebook and Google. Over $600 million was spent on newspapers and magazine advertising while $689 million was spent on radio political advertising according to a Forbes report.
How many new cars, houses and condos are paid for by oodles and oodles of political campaign money? How many media owners become millionaires again and again every political campaign? Mark Zuckerberg did not become worth 62 billion dollars by telling his advertising executives to spend hours or days trying to figure out exactly all the where’s and why’s of all the money that has streamed right into his pocket.
Another Presidential election is coming and this time we could have Cuba, China or even North Korea buying political ads. The ads could be bought under the guise of ‘The John Doe-Sally Smith’ Advertising Agency representing the ‘Crazy Zombie Political Action Committee’ of Mud Creek, California. When the advertising budget for a million dollars or more is placed on the table, who is going to turn it down?
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of this paper or its corporate ownership.