The Art of the Scare Ad

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“Republicans want to end Medicare,” insists the breathless narrator of the ad on the right.  FactCheck.org says it isn’t true.  And Megan McArdle asks: “I’d really like to know whether this sort of thing works, or whether it comes across as so ludicrous that people start wondering about the Democrats’ sanity.”

My guess: yes, it works, and no, no one will be wondering about Dems’ sanity.  I mean, when you’re competing with “Obama is a socialistfascistcommunistthug,” you’ve got a pretty high bar to cross before you look extreme.  Instead, what I’m curious about is why the DNC bothered with this.  Why not just tell the truth: Republicans essentially voted in favor of turning Medicare over to private industry.  With only a few words of explanation, this could easily be more effective than the ad that actually ran.  Like so:

Republicans voted to turn Medicare over to private insurance companies!  You heard right: they want to hand Medicare over to the same companies that [insert two or three insurance company outrages here, maybe a Wall Street reference, something about profits over people, etc.].  Democrats will never do that.  Blah blah blah.

Would that really be any less scary than the ad that actually ran?  Or is the DNC afraid that the urban legends are true, and everyone thinks Medicare is a private plan already?

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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