During the last presidential election, my cousin asked me why there were so many negative political commercials on TV. My answer, based on my 29 years in broadcasting was, they work. Broadcasters cannot refuse a candidate for federal office air time. Those candidates must also get the lowest rate possible from the station. Stations cannot check ads for accuracy. Politicians know TV is a powerful medium for getting elected, so they have made special rules for themselves when it comes to using television. Today we see a number of candidates running for Idaho governor on local TV making outrageous charges regarding their opponents. Television stations do not have to accept these non-federal commercials, but once they do, the same rules begin to apply. If we are ever to return to civility in our politics we must change how TV is used by politicians. Censorship after the fact, called “Fact Check or Accuracy Report,” does not stop the commercial from airing or from lies being told. Don’t blame TV, blame the self-serving elected officials. It is time to change how television can be used in politics.
Larry Chase, Boise