News - TV

Columnist Connor Bahr urges politicians to stop filling up ad space on YouTube and TV with their campaign ads. Bahr believes paying for ads is a waste because people prefer looking up candidates themselves over being faced with ad after ad against their own will. 

Dear politicians, for the love of God, please stop buying ad space on YouTube and TV. I am so overly tired of hearing the same 30 seconds of you speaking every time a commercial break comes on or I switch to another video. In particular, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer have been the most prominent politicians speaking to me against my will and, although it may be petty, this is most likely going to make me less willing to vote for you.

Pete Buttigieg has spent more money than any of the other leading Democratic candidates on advertisements targeting Iowans. In fact, he has spent roughly $250,000 on both Facebook and Google (which includes Youtube). This is five more than the other candidates, and it shows. Of the handful of Buttigieg’s ads that I have seen, I can nearly repeat them from memory because they show up over and over again. On the corner of every screen, there seems to be a Buttigieg clickable advertisement. The sheer amount of content is ridiculous and, honestly, miserable for the consumer.

Whether it is Buttigieg, Steyer or Sanders, almost every one of the ads says the same thing. They hit the main talking points: climate change, how bad Trump is and maybe health care. Of course, because most of the advertisements are targeted toward Iowans, some mention “rural Americans.” All of this is accompanied by small clips of the candidate talking not to the camera, but to people who are smiling. What I absolutely despise so much about these advertisements is how shallow they are. To me, they seem like caricatures of political advertisements. If someone came out tomorrow and told me that those were parodies of real political advertisements, I would believe it without any doubt. The candidates are so obviously saying exactly what they think we want to hear. 

I don’t think that spending hundreds of thousands of donated dollars on ads that I am simply going to skip is going to help them at all either. In fact, I have become so annoyed that someone would spend so much money just to interrupt my YouTube videos that it makes me not want to vote for them. If people want to learn about a candidate they will watch a debate or attend a rally or do digging online, and those people will already know everything you put in your commercial. Those who would be receiving that information for the first time probably don’t want it and, if they do, they won’t want to see the same information over and over again. 

Hopefully, as the caucus concludes and the commercials inevitably completely switch up their tone and content to target other demographics, us Iowans will be past the onslaught of false promises, fake messages and fake politicians.

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Letter to the Editor Submission Link

(2) comments

Steve Gregg

Nothing the Left does repulses people more than familiarity with them and what they think.

Daniel Bell

Dear Connor,

I’m thankful that those who seek to represent us have access to the means to disseminate their views, specifically on TV and Youtube. Yes, it can get tiresome, but there are two simple things you can do 1) Turn off your TV, and 2) use ad blocking software. That is, unless you really are being held in front of the screen against your will. Sure, your complaints are petty, but what’s worse is the disingenuous suggestion that you might actually vote for any of them if they’d only stop harassing you with their views. The fact that Pete Buttigieg has spent so much money is irrelevant. It’s strategy. You’d know that someone outspent all the others the last time around too, if you were paying attention. Was it “5 [sic] more”? I can’t say, but $250,000 is peanuts, and the world has changed somewhat in 4 years. It’s Iowa, we’re first, get used to it. Not only that, since we’re talking about the internet, here’s a little lesson on how it works: You can buy ads to run in specific areas! Neato! Yes, the ads may seem trite, but so what. It’s their ad, it probably wasn’t written for you, and you don’t have to like it. They say what they think we want to hear because a] it’s what they believe, b] they want to get elected, c] these are issues that matter d] all of the above. Just out of curiosity, did you express the same outrage last time around? I’m asking because, somehow, we managed to elect the prince of pandering, just as advertised ad nauseam.

Spending hundreds of thousands of donated dollars on ads is their choice. If donors don’t like it they can stop donating. A moment ago you were complaining about having to watch them, now you complain about having to skip over them. What’s next, complaining about the need to complain? Your precious Youtube reruns of Fox & Friend will still be there, for free, don’t worry. Again, is it really their media saturation that makes you not want to vote for them? Really? It’s nice of you to be looking out for people you don’t know, just try not to do their thinking for them. It’s possible that one of them might hear something in one of these ads and be compelled to learn more on their own, and being the responsible journalist you wouldn’t want to stifle their quest to learn, would you?

Here now, at the end of your tantrum, we see the real issues keeping you from voting for any of them - their promises are “false”, their messages are “fake”, and as politicians they are “fake” - what ever that means. Perhaps you are using the current president as an example of “true” promises, “genuine” messages, and a “genuine” politician?

If you really want to focus on an issue that could ease your viewing tension, take a look at the Citizens United ruling. That assault on our representative democracy - of the people, by the people, and for the people - unleashed practically unlimited amounts of unaccountable money. It’s possible that some of that $250,000 came from some unscrupulous source, but that amount is a rounding error compared to the multi-billion dollar industry that our elections have become. Let that sink in while you consider who the current administration is really representing.

Welcome to the discussion.

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