Political ads: already out of control

Remember when they used to advertise products on TV?

Unless my calendar is lying to me, it's August 19, a full eleven weeks before election day -- and yet the barrage of political advertisements is in early November form. During the 5:30-6 a.m. segment of Channel 4's morning-news broadcast, I saw pro-John McCain ads, anti-John McCain ads, pro-Barack Obama ads, anti-Barack Obama ads, pro-Mark Udall ads, anti-Mark Udall ads, and a spot that argued in favor of a ballot measure to end certain subsidies paid to oil and gas companies. That left room for just two non-political commercials -- a salute to Capzasin, an arthritis remedy, and thirty seconds of poor Dealin' Doug Moreland, whose bleating about car bargains could hardly be heard above the din.

Four years ago, in the November 11, 2004 Message column, I wrote about how strangely happy I was to see familiar faces like Jake Jabs, Big Mike Naughton and Kacey Fine Furniture's Leslie Fishbein, who died in March, after the wearying onslaught of negativity provided by political commercials. This time around, the sense of relief will be even greater thanks to an even higher volume of political broadsides -- purchases inspired, no doubt, by Denver's hosting of the Democratic National Convention and the sense that the state is among the keys to the presidential race. In many ways, the additional attention is positive. But a two-month flood of political ads doesn't qualify in my book.

Still haven't bought a Tivo -- but this may be the year. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts