Los Angeles Times: Misleading political TV ads are filling California’s “news deserts”

Op-Ed: Misleading political TV ads are filling up California’s ‘news deserts’ By the Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2018 (online version) 1

Misleading political TV ads are filling up California’s “news deserts,” where voters cannot find any information on key issues or candidates, the Los Angeles Times has found.

In the 2016 presidential primaries, more than 5.2 million California voters — a third of them black and Latino, according to the Times analysis — saw hundreds of thousands of such ads on broadcast and cable TV that appeared to push one or two messages. In the general election, the Times found, more than 1.7 million voters across California saw nearly 1,000 misleading ads about the economy and immigration, including more than 2,000 ads promoting Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda.

The Times analyzed over 675,000 political TV ads aired on broadcast television in California between June 8, 2016, and Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016, as well as online. The Times found more than 90 percent of the ads promoted one or another candidate’s position on issues that voters care about deeply and deeply, including race, immigration, health care and the environment.

“This ad spend is unprecedented, and it’s all in one year,” said Robert Stern, the Times’ executive editor. “What that means is that the candidates and campaigns have a lot of influence on voters who have no resources or access to the information they need.”

The Times’ analysis is based on data from Kantar Media CMAG, which measures the frequency of campaign ads, as well as the content and topics of those ads.


In other words, TV is a big deal. The state of California, which has more television adverts aired by candidates and campaigns than any other state, is home to more than 2.5 million political ads, or about one out of every eight messages people see about political issues. Almost half of them — 1.5 million — were aired in 2016, while nearly 80 percent of them promoted the positions of their respective presidential and gubernatorial candidates.

What does all that mean, and who are the culprits? The Times’ analysis also suggests where these ads can appear

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