Another Star Chamber Turn

My colleague Alex Brant-Zawadzki is right about the potential of television for doing good– his pro-having-sex-with-George Clooney stance, I'll pass over in silence– but Edward R. Murrow is long dead, and TV nowadays seems to be mostly offering up "the evil of banality", to use Alex Cockburn's evocative phrase. One of the cornerstones of that banality is reruns. Another is fact-free, shamelessly manipulative advertising. And thanks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce devotion to Governor Schwarzenegger, you're about to be subjected to both.

The Chamber is launching a TV advertising blitz on behalf of Arnold's reelection effort. If this sounds familiar, it should– the Chamber did the exact same thing only two weeks ago. It claims to be operating completely separately from Arnold's folks– an "independent expenditure" ad is the legal term– just as it did last time. At least last time, the Chamber had the fig leaf of supporting Arnold's bond initiative to pretend the ad wasn't about reelecting the governor. But even, then no one was buying it, for very obvious reasons, as LA Weekly's Bill Bradley noted:

The California Chamber of Commerce has been one of the governor's closest allies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the closest allies of President George W. Bush's administration. "Independent expenditure" campaigns were a staple of the Bush 2004 re-election campaign. Governor Schwarzenegger's new chief political strategist, Matthew Dowd, was Bush's chief strategist in 2004. Governor Schwarzenegger's new campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, was head of the rapid response team in the Bush 2004 campaign.

This time there isn't even a fig leaf for the Chamber. As for the fig leaves the new ad tries to cover the governor's record with, the Sacramento Bee offers an analysis.

My colleague Alex suggests that maybe George Clooney is the new Elvis. I don't know. I do know, however, what Elvis did when he saw something he hated on TV (e.g., Robert Goulet): he shot the TV. With months of these political ads to look forward to, we may all eventually discover our inner Elvis.


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