Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing the Fear Card, Now With Attached DVD!

At lunch with friends yesterday, Robert and I were discussing (what else) the presidential campaigns and musing on what desperate stunt the rightwing might pull next.

"Oh, it's a big one," said Michael. "On our way out, let's pick up a St. Pete Times--there's supposedly a DVD in the Sunday papers. Something about the threat of Islamofascism, you know, the usual. It's going to be in every major swing-state newspaper."

"A DVD?" I said "Do you have any idea how much that would cost? I mean, putting one in every St. Pete Times, even--you do know how big their circulation is?"

"Well, someone spent the money," said Robert.

We stopped at a convenience store and bought the paper. Sure enough, a four-color postercard with an attached Obsession DVD was tucked into its pages:

Apparently, this was a huge project on the part of the filmmakers, not only in making the piece--first shown on FOX in 2006, just before the elections--but also, this time around, in placing the free DVD preview 60-minute movie into tens of millions of hometown newspapers in swing states (bolds mine):

NEW YORK The arrival of tens of millions of DVDs of a controversial film on doorsteps around the nation -- but almost exclusively in election "swing states" -- via newspaper home delivery continues this weekend, with explanatory articles and subscriber feedback appearing on some of the papers' Web sites.

The DVDs of the 60-minute film, made in 2005, and titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," arrived Saturday with, among other papers, the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer in Raleigh, with delivery with the Miami Herald and other papers set for Sunday. [...]

Despite some protests from Muslim and liberal activists, the newspapers -- all hard hit by drops in ad revenue in recent months -- have explained that the DVD does not violate their usual standards; see our exchange with The New York Times below. A spokesperson there said the Times last Sunday inserted 145,000 DVDs in its papers delivered in the following markets: Denver, Miami/Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee/Madison. Note: These are all in swing states. [...]

E&P asked New York Times Co. spokeswoman Diane McNulty about the policy on this insert. She replied:

"We believe the broad principles of freedom of the press confer on us an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible. Therefore our acceptance or rejection of an advertisement does not depend on whether it coincides with our editorial positions. In fact, there are many instances when we have published opinion advertisements that run counter to the stance we take on our own editorial pages.

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, so let it be my contribution to the chorus:

SHAME ON YOU, St. Petersburg Times and New York Times, and shame on every other newspaper that is helping Clarion to deploy this fearmongering political clusterbomb.

For shame.

Also at Cogitamus.

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