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Our View: Be careful with political messages

Published: Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 11:27 p.m. CDT

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has taken some heat recently for manipulating headlines in his latest TV ad to help his cause in the race to replace Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

The commercial, called “Headlines,” uses newspaper headlines over images of Quinn to attack him and his record on issues such as jobs, the income tax increase, education funding and the federal investigation into his anti-violence program.

A review of the commercial by the Chicago Tribune revealed the headlines don’t accurately reflect the source cited.

Rauner’s campaign, predictably, defended the practice and the ad. “The TV ad does not say everything that appears on screen was a headline,” spokesman Mike Schrimpf wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Due to time and space constraints, some of the phrases had to be condensed.”

Unfortunately, the tactic employed by the Rauner camp is not unique. Political candidates manipulate headlines, newspaper stories and sound bites routinely in advertising and direct-mail literature.

The fact that it is routine does not excuse Rauner or anyone else seeking public office for producing such misleading messages.

It’s a shame that those wanting to represent the people in a public role treat the public with such disdain by choosing to skew the message with questionable manipulation.

Then lawmakers wonder why trust in government is at an all-time low. Candidates engender mistrust before they are even elected.

Voters aren’t blameless, however. The reason candidates can get away with these kinds of advertisements is because they are effective.

Why? Because some voters are too lazy to research claims candidates make and assume that what’s broadcast is true.

The lesson here is not that political candidates should know better, although they should treat voters with more respect.

The lesson here is that voters should make the effort to learn about each candidate independently. Do your own research.

Don’t rely on politically charged messages from the candidates or political action groups to help form your opinion on the issues.

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