Saturday, September 13, 2008

I approved this post

It's the political season, so everyone is being bombarded with the television and radio advertisements of the various candidates. They all end with the "I am X and I approved this message" formulation, although some candidates try to dress it up by adding to it e.g. "I am X and I approved this message because blah blah blah..."

Why? Well, due to SBYA provision of the BCRA of course! This formulation began to be used in 2004 as a result of the passage of the (BCRA) Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the 'McCain-Feingold Act.' It included a 'Stand By Your Ad' (SBYA) provision, which required i) the inclusion an oral disclaimer statement with radio and television ads consisting of an oral statement spoken by the candidate expressing approval of the advertisement, ii) that the disclaimer be accompanied by "either a full-screen view of the candidate making the statement or a photograph of the candidate occupying at least 80 percent of the vertical screen height", iii) that the photo be visible for at least four seconds, and, iv) the inclusion of a "clearly readable" written disclaimer.

The intent of course was laudable - that it be clear to the viewer who the ad was from, and it was also thought that this would discourage candidates from airing unfair or untruthful ads. Senator McCain has famously said, "Every time there is a message, the candidate says, I am so and so and I approve of this ad. They would not approve a lot of the trash put in and negative attacks ..." Ah yes, the sad irony of this statement given some of his current ads!

The act was passed with a strong majority of Democrats along with a minority of Republicans, another of the many "feel good" laws so beloved of Democratic senators and representatives, who persist in believing that good behavior can be legislated... When will they learn that this doesn't really work, especially when the stakes are very high!

Oh, yes, this blogger almost forgot... I am SNi and I approved this blog entry because I'd like to point out the stupidity of passing worthless laws...

I approve this message - Wikipedia
I approved this message: a study of political disclaimers
Candidates go beyond 'I approved this message'