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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 day. 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 neighborhood."

"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 president!

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 of our 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 president."

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 Committee’s “Black 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 as People 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 Africa, surrounded 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 Republican lobbyist for benefactor Rooney’s former holding, the Golden Rule Insurance company.

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:

"Today one-third of African American pregnancies end in abortion Black babies are terminated at rates triple of white babies.

Under title X Schools can counsel scared kids to abort their babies without even consulting their parents.

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 abortion laws.

Don't buy the democratic lie.

Killing unborn babies is no way to help those in poverty.”

was 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, station manager, 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 American public.



September16 2004
Issue 105

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