The GOP Money Wagon Rolls Into Illinois

Posted on March 20th, by Michael Rosenblum in Television. 1 Comment

And this week……more of the same….

I am not going to get involved in politics here.

Who you vote for is your business.

I do want to talk about what is rapidly becoming the world’s longest- running (and least interesting) TV reality show – The 2012 Presidential Elections.  And the Democrats have not even started yet.

According to, the 2012 election, when it finally draws to a conclusion in November, will cost something on the order of $8 billion.

This is an absolutely astronomical number.

That comes to $65 per voter, if the number of voters remains the same as in 2008.

It would be easier just to send everyone a check, and probably a lot more popular.

Most people are concerned with where the money comes from – from Super PACs to God only know what else.

That’s a concern.

I am more interested in where the money goes.

Mostly, it goes to TV stations and networks.

That’s what pays for all of those ads.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves let the cat out of the bag:

Moonves said he was bullish on political advertising from Super- PACs fueling the bottom line at CBS-owned stations. 

“It may be bad for America but it’s good for CBS,” Moonves joked.

It may be good for CBS, but it is no joke.

As any local TV station GM will tell you, the great national election event is a life-giving injection of much-needed cash into the arm of every local TV station in America.  As the ‘Primary’ rolls into town (this week it is Illinois’ turn), the candidates inundate the air-waves with TV ad after TV ad, selling themselves.

In South Carolina’s GOP primary, the various candidates spent more than $22 million on TV ads.  One state down, 49 to go, and that’s just one political party.  We’re still early in the game. By the time we reach November, I have no doubt that all $8 billion will be spent on ad after ad after ad in every state to hold a primary, and then, of course, there’s the national election.

And what does all this vast expense buy us?

What do you have left at the end of the year, after all those political ads are broadcast into the stratosphere, on their way to Mars?


Of course, the local TV stations and networks have had their once every four years celebrations. They get to go on for another four years until the next one.

Despite taking vast sums of money from the GOP candidates for commercial spots, when CBS News ran the live coverage of the South Carolina GOP Debates (no commercials), the network cut away to the conclusion of a re-run of a 2010 episode of NCIS (about stolen nuclear material) for what should have been the last half-hour of the debate.  Maybe that was more exciting?

Meanwhile, YouTube released its list of ‘Top Political Videos of 2012’.

#1 video:  Zach Wahls talks about growing up with two lesbian mothers at the Iowa House of Representatives.  18 million views so far, and still going.

And YouTube doesn’t cost anything.

In fact, posting videos online doesn’t cost anything.

So maybe this is a better way for the candidates to go, if they really have a video message they want to get out to the public.

18 million views for free is pretty cost/effective in a time of tightening budgets.

And what about the $8 billion?

Well, I went to college in a little town in Massachusettes called Williamstown.  Last year, the town built a new school. The total cost for that school was $13.5 million.

If the candidates took that $8 billion and put it to better use, they could collectively build 593 new school across America every four years.

For people who all claim to be ‘the education President’, don’t you think that would be a better way to show it?

And think of all the great free videos they could get on YouTube if they did that?

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