It’s a sure bet that the TV ratings for what could be the Toronto Raptors championship game on Monday night will be astronomical, and that’s just what a couple of competing political campaigns are counting on.
The battle on the basketball court on Monday night will be punctuated by a plethora of political commercials by competing interests to try to tell us what we should think about Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Yes, the federal election is still four months away, but with recent polling suggesting that this could be a very close election, it seems that some third party groups a taking a page out of Stephen Harper’s playbook and attempting to define the opposition.
You may remember that the Harper team made it a habit to characterize the Liberal leaders of the day, first Stéphane Dion and then Michael Ignatieff, as woefully unqualified to form a government, and the doubts raised in those ads certainly played a role in Harper winning consecutive elections.
It’s a strategy that has been adopted time and again in subsequent elections; the focus is less on policy and more on attacking the character of the opponent.
We saw Donald Trump take that method to the extreme against Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election and those relentless attacks on her character, augmented by some strategic Russian interference, swung the election in key states in Trump’s favour.
Of course, to get maximum bang for their buck, the political advertisers want their ads on prime time TV where they’ll be exposed to the largest potential audience.
So, when a major sporting event comes along with almost guaranteed high ratings, like a Raptors championship game, those political advertisers want a piece of that action.
The frequency of political ads may be irritating to some, but the greater concern should be the content and the tone.
Political ad campaigns these days seem to have just enough policy promises to keep the political geeks happy, but the majority of the ads take direct aim at the character of the opponent.
Attack ads, as they’ve become known, are now the new normal, and although numerous surveys indicate our misgivings with that kind of acerbic tone, we continue to be inundated with them.
It seems as if they don’t want voters to be filled with hope for their future, they want them to be full of anger.
And, if you’re one of those people who are bothered by the relentless barrage of vindictive political ads, be forewarned; they’re just getting started.
Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.
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