I'm Colby Cosh, and I approve this sullen cynicism - Macleans.ca

I’m Colby Cosh, and I approve this sullen cynicism


Revealing moment in the new CoyneWellsCast: A.C. calls for an American-style “I’m Joe McGraft and I approve this message” rule for Canadian political campaigning. That’s certainly what he seems to be doing about ten minutes in, anyway. But isn’t “Stand By Your Ad” regulation already a canonical instance of failure in trying to meliorate political discourse by means of a procedural tweak?


I’m Colby Cosh, and I approve this sullen cynicism

  1. And his 'what if the candidate actually spoke the message" musing was part of the West Wing's final season…it was really effective there so he has that.

  2. Interesting note from the wiki link:

    A study by Brigham Young University, however, revealed that advertisements where the candidate has approved the communication had a more positive impact in comparison to those that did not, regardless of whether they knew the candidates well. It also concluded that the provision made viewers have more confidence that the political campaigns were run in a truthful and fair manner.

    • Or, to put it another way: "Having examined the effect of the rule before everybody became conditioned to regard 'I approve this message' as redundant noise (which, technically, is what it is), the study found that it was successful at inculcating a totally illusory and destructive confidence in political campaign rhetoric. Whoopee."

      • Heh. Good point about the conditioning. I imagine after the 100th viewing of a politician saying "I approve of this message", the brains of the target audience filter it out as noise.

  3. Whichis why I didn't actually propose the "I approve this message" afterthought, but actually requiring the candidates to voice the messages themselves, which I think is rather stronger medicine.

    • It's theory right? Because I'm pretty sure it would be unconstitutional, and that parties might care enough about the way it limits their ads that they would fight it.

    • It'll be fine so long as nobody wears a bicycle helmet.

      • Or a cheese factory hat.

    • So you're talking about a species of radical prior restraint on political communication (no words in anyone's mouth but the candidate's), rather than a modest truth-in-advertising spec? Yikes. I liked the original idea a LOT better.

  4. Even if it won't stop politicians from saying horrible and stupid things in their ads, is it not worthwhile to force them to OWN the horrible and stupid things in their ads. It may not improve the ads or lessen their negativity, but it surely increases a politician's ACCOUNTABILITY for producing the ad.

  5. Old rule for old technology – what about the party's websites, youtube clips etc. ?

    "I'm Stephen Harper and I approve Poopy McPuffin"

    The PPG will take the internet message mainstream, especially if it's controversial, and not an official "ad".

  6. I don't think we need to move further in the direction of prejudicing the system toward attractive people with pleasant voices. I'd rather require that all political ads be done with the macintosh "say" command.