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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

How about Subliminable ?
From Jim Rutenberg's New York Times article about how, even if people don't think they have been misled by campaign adds, they have been.

"Even people who don't think there is much information in these ads and say they don't learn anything from them tell us they believe factoids they could only have gotten from these ads, and they're wrong," said Brooks Jackson, director of, an Annenberg Public Policy Center Web site that vets political advertisements for accuracy. "It's beyond subliminal — it's something else I haven't come up with a name for.""

I like the article, but Rutenberg does choose to struggle for "balance" by being more than fair to Bush

"More than half of those surveyed also said they believed Mr. Kerry had "voted for higher taxes 350 times." That idea, Annenberg researchers concluded, is based on a commercial for Mr. Bush in which an announcer said, "Kerry supported higher taxes over 350 times.""

in which a Bush add is quoted making a deliberately misleading claim


"In a survey ... 72 percent said they believed that three million jobs had been lost during Mr. Bush's presidency. Mr. Kerry made that claim in a spot in late February,...(Mr. Kerry's figures did not include government jobs.)"

in which the Kerry add is not quoted. I haven't seen the add. If it said "3 millino jobs have been lost during Mr Bush's Presidency" it would be a lie. If it said " 3 million private sector jobs ahve been lost during the Bush presidency" it would be accurate, precise and clear. Rutenberg can not blame Kerry if people hear "jobs" when his add says "private sector jobs".

Furthermore the Kerry campaign is not slicing and dicing the numbers. Bush claims he is against big government so the increase in public sector employment is bad news for him. Private sector employment growth has been the standard thing for politicians to brag about at least since Clinton's 1992 campaign.

Also consider "In an advertisement for Mr. Kerry, an announcer said, "George Bush says sending jobs overseas makes sense for America." Mr. Bush never said that. A report to Congress by his top economic adviser said cheaper production of goods overseas had long-term benefits but did not make the plain case that domestic job losses were a good thing."

The distinction between Bush and Mankiw is certainly valid (I would give my right hand to replace Bush with Mankiw). However, the Kerry campaign's paraphrase of Mankiw is reasonable, while Rutemberg's para-paraphrase is completely unreasonable.

Journalist cure thyself if it's not too much bother. But in any case keep writing good articles.

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