Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Celebrity Political Endorsements and the Media Response

Michael J. Fox recently played a starring role in a political campaign advertisement. He asked voters to support an issue: stem cell research. Fox did so by asking viewers to vote for Democratic candidates in Wisconsin, Maryland and Missouri.

Fox appeared (by what some say) unusually affected by his Parkinson's disease and shook back and forth throughout the spot. He also bashed a Republican candidate in Missouri. Then, Rush Limbaugh accused Fox of exploiting his disease for the Democrats. He eventually apologized.

This video was downloaded over and over again, so Republicans got some stars of their own to show their side on stem cell research in an advertisement. The stars were not as recognizable in my opinion but famous nonetheless.

I have to take issue with two factors in this scenario. The first is that hollywood actors are endorsing politicians through campaign ads. Both parties should not use famous faces to lure voters to their side. I know this has been going on forever. Yes, Fox has a disease so he can serve as a spokesman, but is it appropriate for him to bash the other candidate? He could ask voters to vote for certain people without slamming the other candidate in vague terms.

Second, should the media (in this case Limbaugh) so blatantly take political sides? I know that Limbaugh is a conservative radio talk show host, but can he attack Fox about his disease just because he backed some Democrats? He picked apart Fox's appearance during the ad because he happened to support the other side. I think better attempts at objectivity must be taken here.

To find out more, go to the New York Times article here



At Thursday, October 26, 2006, Anonymous AL said...

I agree with you. I think celebrities have just as much right to say their piece in what they believe and if you happen to have public pull, as celebrities do, then you should use your access to certain issues in a positive way. But we already have enough negative campaigning between political candidates, they don't need help with that from entertainment figures.

At Thursday, October 26, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I agreed as well. I felt that a lot of news media were downright mean when it came to Michael J. Fox's condition and accused him of "acting" for the sake of the candidate. You try having Parkinson's.

At Saturday, October 28, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Yes, Fox has a disease so he can serve as a spokesman, but is it appropriate for him to bash the other candidate?

What could be more appropriate? Republicans like Missouri's Jim Talent are scoring political points by blocking stem cell research. Fox strongly believes that that science holds the hope of cures for diseases like Parkinson's. Isn't it his duty to speak up? Or do celebrities waive their right to free speech?

Fox previously cut an ad for pro-stem-cell-research Republican Arlen Spector, so this isn't a partisan thing. It's just about getting the right policy in place.

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