Vote For Steve Hartman?

<B><I>60 Minutes</B></I> Columnist Takes A Look At Political Ads

This week's commentary is by 60 Minutes Columnist Steve Hartman. It originally aired on May 19, 2004.
If there's one thing I've learned this year, it's that if you can't say something nice about a person, you can run for president.

Already, the negative ads are everywhere -- constantly reminding us of what a disloyal, greedy, flip-flopping, middle-class-hating, bad-picture-taking schmoe the other guy is.

The logical side of me understands these ads are all gross exaggerations, if not outright fabrications.

It's my emotional side that falls for their scare tactics. And I'm tired of it, which is why I thought it might be helpful for me, and maybe you, to see how these ads can breed such contempt in such a short amount of time -- just 30 seconds or less.

David Doak and Frank Wilkinson make political ads for a living, so I invited them here to see if it was possible to make a negative ad about me –- a former Eagle Scout and all-around nice guy.

And with that, they went to work.

"There's nothing at stake except his reputation," says Wilkinson.

They seemed to be having an awful good time. They promised me the ad would be technically accurate.

"You don't have to make the case that he's a bad guy, just that he's inexperienced," says Doak.

But when it came time to watch it, I hardly could hardly recognize myself.

"Does Steve Hartman measure up as a journalist?

He finds stories by throwing a dart at a map, and even Hartman admits he stole the idea from a newspaper reporter in Idaho.

When compared to Andy Rooney, one reporter implied that Rooney was the genuine article.

Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and Steve Hartman."

Give me a break.

After seeing that ad, I decided two things. First, from now on, I'm not going to believe anything I hear in a campaign commercial. And secondly, I'm definitely not watching that guy anymore.
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