Democrats are going “toe to toe” against a Republican campaign
to pollute Black-oriented media, principally radio, with negative
and voter suppression ads in key “battleground” states, say officials
at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The official Democratic
counterattack has been hugely reinforced by multibillionaire George
Soros’s independent “527” outfit, The Media Fund, which will
spend $5 million on Black-oriented media between now and election
The Media Fund has already spent $43 million on ads with themes ranging
from “Ohio Outsourced” to “No Oil Company Left Behind,” “Bush and
Halliburton” and “It’s About Jobs.”
According to Clifford Franklin, president of St. Louis-based The
Fuse, the agency that created the
Black ads, the Soros-financed media campaign is “aimed particularly
at those who have an extremely cynical view of the political process" – that
is, African Americans between the ages of 18 and 35. The message: "Don't
keep getting played"
The ads skillfully focus audience attention
on the race-based character of Bush’s policies and popular base,
in hard-edged, straightforward language. Some key phrases:
"Bush said he would leave no child
behind. But he wasn't talking about your child."
"Bush said prosperity was right around
the corner, but he wasn't talking about the corners in your
"Bush has a plan for
America. But you're not part of it."
The GOP has already targeted Blacks in many
of these same “battlefield
states” (see , “Bush’s
Black Attack Dogs,” September
2) with media buys on some of the same stations. Soros’s
team directly confronts the intensifying Republican efforts to
suppress the Black vote.
"The Republicans want you to sit out this election and
simply stay home…. Who are they fooling? These are the same
folks that are against affirmative action, oppose civil rights.
These are the same people against raising the minimum wage.
And want to take away overtime pay…. Under Bush, 1.1 million
more black folks live in poverty than they did before 2001."
"Don't keep getting played"
Washington Post media analyst Howard Kurtz,
playing the usual corporate media game, claims the ad “contains some exaggerations.
The administration has not proposed weakening civil rights laws
and is seeking to eliminate overtime only for certain employment
categories.” Objectively, Kurtz is dead wrong. Affirmative action is a
civil rights issue, as is the Patriot Act. Failure to enforce
civil rights laws is the same as opposing civil rights, as is
nominating anti-civil rights judges to the federal courts. Kurtz
sets himself up as an arbiter of the boundaries of civil rights. By his standards, Bush would have to oppose the Public
Accommodations Act of 1964 to qualify as an anti-civil rights
Although federal law requires that political
parties and their candidates build a “firewall” between their operations and those
of partisan “527s,” the Democratic National Committee’s concurrent
Black ad lineup compliments the Soros effort. Here’s one of the
DNC ads, voiced by a male announcer:
“George Bush misled
the American people into a war in Iraq that is draining billions
tax dollars. While our women and men in the armed forces
are re-building Iraq, weapons of mass destruction can be
found right here at home in [STATE].
“Under Mr. Bush, unemployment
among African Americans has increased by 27%. More
than seven million African Americans lack health insurance. And,
one in three African American children live in poverty, twice
the national average.
“For 20 years, John Kerry has fought
for civil rights, economic opportunity and fairness. That’s
why the Congressional Black Caucus honored him in 2002. That’s
why the NAACP recently gave John Kerry a 100% approval rating.
“On November 2nd, vote
to make a change in the White House. Vote John Kerry for
This is a strong, yet carefully balanced
DNC ad, including negative Bush and positive Kerry narrative.
Even Howard Kurtz could not disapprove.
The Republican National
gun,” former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts, denounced the
Soros ads. Acting like Aaron Burr instigating his duel with
Alexander Hamilton, Watts howled:
”I will challenge anyone to debate me on Bush's record, versus
Senator Kerry's record on issues that directly impact my community,
including support for Historically Black Colleges & Universities
(HBCU's), faith-based initiatives, minority business development,
and health care disparities.
”John Kerry has no record with the black
community, and so his supporters in these shadow groups are
launching more of
the same unfounded, negative, and personal attacks against
George W. Bush.
”After 20 years of bad votes
in the U.S. Senate, including votes against school choice,
against the Child Tax
Credit , against marriage penalty relief and of campaigning without
any thought to putting forward an agenda for the future, John
Kerry is turning to 527's to try and scare African Americans
away from President George W. Bush's positive agenda. It is shameful!"
Soros is no “shadow.” He’s a high profile billionaire whose
determination to topple Bush is well known. And he hasn’t established
any African American “front” groups to “Blackwash” his money.
It’s the Republicans who have a lock on “shadow” groups, such
of Color United, the Black front for white Republican insurance
mogul J. Patrick Rooney’s money. Washington DC school vouchers
activist Virginia Walden-Ford, who has been bankrolled for years
by the most rightwing foundations in the nation, broadcast a
package of classic Black voter suppression ads in “battleground” states,
last month. As we wrote in our September 2 issue, the ads were “as
dishonest and cynical an example of campaign poison as have ever
been broadcast on Black-oriented radio. The ad wasn’t pro-Republican,
it was anti-Black voting.” Here are some excerpts:
“John Kerry for president? How is it we don't know anything
about this guy? You'd think someone who has been in office
for 22 years, we'd know why he's supposed to be our savior. What's
Kerry done for us? ...Our community doesn't need another
wishy-washy, rich, white politician. And boy, does Kerry
come across as rich, white and wishy-washy...”
“His wife says she's an African American. While
technically true, I don't believe a white woman, raised in
by servants, qualifies...”
”Maybe Kerry thought the
more of us who are unemployed and hurting - the more likely
we would vote Democratic!”
In an August 16 interview on the Tavis
Smiley public radio show, Walden-Ford seemed to claim authorship
of the ad:
Host Tony Cox: “The matter of using
race [in the ads] – was that the idea of Black people in the
organization, or the whites?”
Walden-Ford: “This is my opinion,
this is the opinion of those who are around me in the African
American community…. If anybody was wondering – it was me.”
However, officials at the Democratic
National Committee say the People
of Color United ads were actually written by Joe Novak, a white
for benefactor Rooney’s former holding, the Golden Rule Insurance
A shadowy Republican-Right outfit called America’s Pac Campaign took to the Black-oriented airwaves
this month in contested mid-Western states. could
find no evidence of America’s Pac Campaign ever having previously
existed. According to Dayton, Ohio radio station WRNB-FM sales
records, the group’s president and treasurer is Richard Nadler,
of Overland Park, Kansas, but Nadler delivers his message through
a Black voice on the radio:
of African American pregnancies end in abortion Black babies
at rates triple of white babies.
Under title X Schools can counsel
scared kids to abort their babies without even consulting
Each year the abortion mill diminish
the human capacity of our community by another 400,000 souls.
The democratic party
support these abortion laws that are decimating our people.
But the individual right to life
is protected in the republican platform.
Democrats say they want our votes
why don't they want our children.
Learn the racial truth about America's
Don't buy the democratic
babies is no way to help those in poverty.”
alerted to this ultra-negative attack ad, one of eight produced
by the truly shadowy America’s Pac Campaign, by Vernellia
R. Randall, a professor of Law at the University of Dayton.
DNC African American
Media Director William Marshall makes a distinction between
the highly obnoxious
America’s Pac attack ads, and People of Color United’s/J. Patrick
Rooney’s Black voter suppression messages. “A simple
attack ad is probably similar to the Swift Boat ads” that sully
a candidate’s character and reputation, said Marshall. “Whereas,
a Black voter suppression ad tries to use African American
voices to shift blame… They want you to come away confused.
They purposely don’t want you to be clear on the issue, they
want to confuse the facts.”
For example, the People of Color United ad makes it appear that
Kerry wanted an unemployment insurance extension bill to fail,
when in fact the Republicans opposed the measure.
Both parties have taken very seriously a 2002 survey by
the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) that
showed younger African Americans increasingly estranged from
the Democratic Party. Republicans spun the survey as indicating
that Blacks in general, and younger Blacks in particular, were
becoming more “conservative” – an interpretation that demolished
in our November
2002 analysis, “Poll Shows Black Political Consensus Strong.” What
the survey actually showed was “a deepening disappointment with
the Democratic Party among Blacks.”
”What can we make of the slippage in Black
identification with the Democrats in 2002? Nothing that favors
Republicans or conservatives of any stripe. Enough Blacks were
disappointed with the party this mid-term election season to
eliminate the word Democrat from their personal self-description.
But they voted for the party, anyway, in the usual numbers, because
their disappointment was from the Left, and because the Right – the
Republican Party – was no alternative at all.”
The GOP and its Black hirelings knew perfectly
well that African American frustrations with the Democratic
Party would not translate
to Black voter Republicanism in 2004. Indeed, a significant Black
influx into the Party’s Deep South precincts would be an unmitigated
disaster, destroying the GOP’s appeal as the White Man’s Party
in Dixie. However, the JCPES data encouraged Republicans to
step up their efforts to blunt a huge Black turnout against George
Bush, through attack ads and outright voter suppression messages. “The
GOP has a history of playing the race card to galvanize their
base and suppress the African American vote,” said the
DNC’s William Marshall. Republicans are “not trying to gain or
garner African American votes. The Republicans have a lot to
gain by African Americans staying home.”
Black radio stations in targeted states are
set to make out like bandits this election cycle. Victor Dyson,
vice president and director of sales for the Carter Broadcast
Group, in Missouri, expects political ads will total "significantly
more than in 2000” and up 25 to 30 percent over the 2002 mid-term
elections. Back then, estimated that “various
Republican and rightwing organizations spent at least $7 million
on Black media, including $1 million in Republican National Committee
spot buys centered on the American Urban Radio Networks.”
A September 1 Pacific News Service/NCM article notes
that Black media have been closely monitoring GOP Black voter
suppression schemes. But that cannot possibly be true for Black
radio stations, most of which do not have news departments. (See , “Who
Killed Black Radio News,” May
29, 2002.) Thus, Black radio, which is largely news-less,
will profit handsomely from advertising by Republicans, Democrats
and their respective surrogates, while providing no mechanisms
to inform their listeners about the real facts of the campaign,
or the messages they are hearing.
That’s a 365-24-7 crime against the African