Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Times Record: Ads Are "Despicable"

Strong words from The Times Record about the corporate-backed, anti-union lies now polluting Maine's airwaves:

Political advertising in Maine has sunk to a new low, thanks to the misleadingly named Coalition for a Democratic Workplace.

The coalition, which launched an aggressive campaign of anti-union television ads this spring, dragged Maine television viewers deeper into the slop with a new ad that portrays union officials as crime syndicate kingpins and six-term U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, the Democratic Party's challenger to two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, as the union bosses' henchman in Maine.

The ads are slick but sleazy. They insult Allen, union members, the history of the U.S. labor movement--and the intelligence of all Mainers.

Bankrolled by deep-pocketed, out-of-state silent partners who for decades have lobbied Congress and state legislatures to make workers' rights and safety subservient to corporate profits, the coalition attempts to damage Allen's image with voters by equating him with strong-arm, anti-democratic tactics...

They aim to divert a strong Democratic challenger in a key race for control of the U.S. Senate by driving a wedge between leaders and members of unions that, for good reason, have historically backed Democrats. Introducing Allen and Collins into the latest round of ads proves that this campaign's about politics, not democracy.

Production quality masks the dishonesty of the ads' basic premise, which is that union leaders run roughshod over members' rights.

In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act, which Allen and most major U.S. unions support, does not deny members the option of secret balloting in contract votes. It aims to strengthen legal protections for workers who seek to unionize or who face coercive conduct by employers during labor-management negotiations...

The despicable ads focus on the internal issue of union balloting to distract voters from the coalition's broader agenda, which continues to hinge on muting workers' voices during the process of lawmaking.

They should require a disclaimer that reads: "Brought to you by the people who fought family leave, collective bargaining, a livable wage, the 40-hour work week and occupational safety laws."
As good as it is to see this kind of unflinching assessment, the editorial only underscores how scandalous it is that, by and large, the Collins-friendly Maine media has remained silent.

After all, what we're talking about here, at bottom, is a sophisticated, expensive campaign of corporate-backed propaganda that uses outright lies in an effort to trick voters into believing the opposite of the truth.

You might think that kind of thing would raise eyebrows in newsrooms around the state.

Or maybe, by now, you know better.

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