The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision launched a new era of big-money politics. The wealthiest 1 percent now has even more power to pick and choose our nation’s leaders. And they’re spending the bulk of this money on televised political ads designed to mislead voters. (Click here to see Free Press' infographic depicting this dysfunctional dynamic.)
So where’s the broadcast media in all of this? Instead of exposing this runaway spending and separating fact from fiction in an election year, they’re lining their pockets with the windfall from this massive ad buy … to the tune of more than $3 billion in 2012.
The reason so much money is spent on so many ads is that it’s a proven formula for success. In the 2008 election cycle, the candidate who spent more on a congressional campaign won the race more than nine out of 10 times. And while there’s some reporting on where money to influence elections originates, few people follow the billions of dollars spent by campaigns and Super PACs to the trail’s end: the bank accounts of a handful of media corporations that control local television stations across the United States, with a daily viewing audience that numbers in the hundreds of millions.
This year we have a historic opportunity to advance reforms that will shed more light on this problem while nurturing a media of, by and for the people. Free Press and our allies are working to hold broadcasters accountable to the public and give us the reporting we need to make informed decisions at the polls.