David Broder is the Washington

David Broder is the Washington Post’s lead writer on politics, and has been for too many years. Like so many in media, he loves to scold politicians for running negative ads. Apparently, it has never occurred to him that these ads, when truthful, often provide valuable information to voters. In today’s column, Broder reports that, when two consultants pointed this out to him, he was “shocked.” The statements of the two consultants probably contain as much wisdom as anything that has ever appeared in a Broder column. Donna Lucas, of the American Association of Political Consultants (yes, such an organization exists), told Broder, “People say they hate negative ads, but really they want to compare the candidates. They want to know not only the reason to vote for someone, but also not to vote for the other one.” Ken Goldstein of the University of Wisconsin shocked Broder even more with this statement that strikes me as clearly correct: “We should not necessarily see negative ads as a harmful part of our electoral system. They are much more likely [than positive ads] to be about policy, to use supporting information, and to be reliable.”

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