Sunday, March 07, 2004

There have been two minor stinks about campaign advertisements in the US presidential race over the last few days. First the Bush campaign rolled out its advertisements showing scenes from 9-11. The Democrats complained. Now, I figure if the Bush campaign wants to run advertisements reminding people what the "root cause" of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was, fair enough. This comes down to freedom of speech. The First Amendment guarantees the Republicans' right to make any political argument they want to make. If people are offended by their argument, it'll cost the Republicans votes. But "don't change horses in the middle of a stream" is a serious campaign issue and a legitimate pro-Bush argument--we're in this war, don't elect somebody who might radically change the current policy--that was brought up in the 1864 and 1944 elections.

Then Move On, a leftist political activism organization, came out with its own advertisements criticizing George Bush. The Republicans complained, and in addition threatened to get lower court injunctions prohibiting the anti-Bush adds from running on the ground that they violate federal campaign spending laws, a completely different issue. The Republicans say that Move On's ads are the equivalent of Democratic Party ads paid for by a different front organization, and that's not legal. Democratic Party ads have to be paid for by the Democratic Party or nobody else, and the legal question is whether the Move On ads should be considered Dem Party ads or not. The Republicans say yes, the Democrats say no.

The Spanish TV media has managed to conflate the two different issues, neither of which is of any particular importance, and come out with the impression that the Supreme Court had prohibited using footage from 9-11 in campaign advertisements, which would be major news if it weren't completely impossible.

Just to put the kibosh on a couple of common media rumors around here, Number One is that it is in no way prohibited nor censored nor nothin' to show bodies from 9-11 on American TV, as the Vanguardia has repeatedly stated. There weren't many, of course, since most of them had fallen a thousand feet with an enormous burning building (weighing thousands, if not millions, of tons) in flames falling on top of them, and then the site smoldered for weeks. Not many dead body pictures were shown because there were very few whole dead bodies. The Spanish press immediately accused the Americans of censoring dead bodies. The Vanguardia has repeated this one various times. It's simply not true. Want some evidence? Here's a quote from the New York Daily News:

One (ad), titled "Safer, Stronger," also features a one-second shot of firefighters removing the flag-draped remains of a victim from the twisted debris.

So the Bush campaign advertisements are using a one-second shot of a dead body being carried off from the World Trade Center. Some censorship.

The second is that reporters are forbidden from covering the funerals of the dead soldiers' bodies that come back from Iraq. Completely false. The family of the dead soldier makes whatever arrangements it wants. Those arrangements do not normally include an invitation to the foreign press. The Vanguardia has repeated this one several times, too, to its everlasting discredit.

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