As the November 5 election nears, the AARP is warning voters to be skeptical of "issue advocacy ads" paid for by corporations and other well-heeled interests. Most of these issue ads are targeting older Americans. Many are sponsored by the drug industry, which is using issue ads to promote its allies and defeat its opponents in the battle over a Medicare prescription drug benefit.
"The group that''s speaking the loudest is simply the group with the most money," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, "not necessarily the group that has your self-interest at heart or is telling you the truth."
The biggest problem, Jamieson says, is that it''s often difficult for viewers to know who''s really behind an ad. She cites the ads sponsored by Citizens for Better Medicare, whose name has broad appeal but gives no clue that the group is largely financed by the drug industry.
Writing about Citizens for Better Medicare, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has said, 'The drug lobby''s goal is single-minded: avoid any kind of Medicare drug coverage that reins in skyrocketing drug costs. The campaign''s effect so far has been to deny America''s senior citizens and people with disabilities a Medicare prescription drug benefit.'
AARP''s "Ad Watch" project is monitoring ads on such issues as Medicare and Social Security. "If an ad is full of lies and distortions or uses scare tactics," says Kevin Donnellan, AARP''s director of grassroots and elections, "we will refute it."
To read the AARP story on deceptive ads, click here.
For AARP's Election Guide 2002, go to: http://www.aarp.org/election2002