August 18, 2012

Washington Post
Washington, DC

Dear Editor:

The public is fed up with the negative political ads. It is about to get even worse. Actually the problem is not negative content because true negative facts need to be aired. Instead what we have is outright lies, lies by omission, quotations out of context, some truth mixed with negative attributions or distortions, non-transparent identification of sponsors, etc. Some commentators have explained the reason it is so much worse this year is that the Democrats are giving back as good as they get, unlike the last two Presidential elections where they mistakenly tried to remain "polite." A pox on both their houses.

The print and broadcast press bear a major responsibility for failure to confront lies as they occur. The major journalists do a better job of confronting but still make the mistake of confusing mild or absent confrontation with "politeness." Perhaps journalists need an intense crash course in polite but firm confrontation before we have to go through this again in four years. The press are co-conspirators in these lies even if they confront them long after their origin since the damage has been done and cannot be fully corrected later. Parents know that children are best corrected immediately after a mistake. Just as the politicians prostitute themselves to the special interests, so the press prostitutes themselves to the politicians and special interests to maintain contacts and earn the high revenue rates for political advertising.

The improvement of this major breach of democracy (usually committed in the name of "free speech") is difficult. I doubt it can be done even by a small group of leading publishers I hope a conference and project of journalists could construct a unified approach. That would be a great paradigm shift for truth and democracy.

Sincerely yours,

Jan Polissar
8912 Charred Oak Dr.
Bethesda, MD 20817
301 365-6303

I have not submitted this to any other publication.