The other Gore

By Jake Tapper

By Salon Staff
September 22, 2000 11:01AM (UTC)
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Gore Vidal wants Congress to force the networks to provide free airtime to candidates. As an ad agent who has been producing and placing television advertising for over a dozen years, I can tell Vidal and anyone else who will listen that there is no such thing as free airtime.


There are only a limited number of time slots to be filled with commercials. The more of them that are filled with "free" commercials for candidates, the fewer are left for paid advertising. Therefore, due to the laws of supply and demand, the cost of advertising for those who do pay goes up. In effect, the paying advertisers -- and through them, their customers, i.e., the public -- will be footing the bill for the candidates, not the networks or TV stations. The bottom line is just another tax on us.

In fact, this is going on right now. By law, candidates can buy airtime at the lowest price paid by any advertiser several weeks before an election. So the networks and stations just keep prices artificially high during that period. The businesses have to pay the high prices and they pass them along to us.

-- Gary Davis


The problem with "free time" proposals is that no proponent of these has ever spelled out a plan. Will free time be inclusive of more than just the two big parties? Will it include Greens, Libertarians, etc.? The problem is not entirely corporate America, the problem is that both parties attempt to be all things to all people because the politicians are more interested in getting elected than having integrity. Corporate America merely utilizes this fact and spreads its money around to cover all bases.

-- Christopher Smith

Vidal is almost completely right: All there is left of intellectual opposition to the Establishment regime in this country are himself and Noam Chomsky. But the Internet provides other voices, thankfully, at, Salon itself occasionally, Chronicles magazine and the Rockford Institute, and the combined efforts of thousands of e-mail lists and forums. Is it enough to counter the dead weight of Leviathan? Probably not.


Vidal is unfortunately also correct when he says that it's all locked up, the fix is in, bag job.

But I hope he never stops trying.

-- Dave Hardy

I want THIS Gore for president, dammit!

-- Aaron Batty

Salon Staff

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