This piece begins with great potential by talking about how 15 of the top 100 political donors in the 2000 election were from Michigan. Reporter Peter Ross mentions that Jay Van Andel gave $400,000, but the information stops there. Instead, the reporter attempts to communicate that most political money “comes in small amounts.” This is simply not true. See the information at the Center for Public Integrity and White House for Sale.
The WZZM 13 reporter goes to the West Michigan Women’s Expo since both the Republicans and Democrats had tables at that event and give us some pithy quotes like “I have more time than money,” and “If you buy a donkey button, I’ll give you a John Kerry button.” One of the women at the Republican table says “It’s the grassroots effort that wins everything.” That certainly should be challenged by the reporter. If grassroots is where it’s at, why do political campaigns spend the majority of their money on paid political ads? See the Alliance for Better Campaigns.
The reporter goes on to tell us how much the Democrats (at their unity event) and Republicans (total of $170 million) have raised to date, but not who the money is from nor how it will be spent. Instead they go back to the Women’s Expo and get a comment from a voter who clearly struggles with the campaign money issue – “It’s too bad we have to raise so much money to win a campaign.”
The story ends with the reporter telling us that Bush has out-raised Kerry so far, which is why no Kerry ads have aired in this market yet, although anti-Bush ads have appeared. Unfortunately, no mention is made out how much money this media market has made from running paid political ads, nor how that impacts public perception.
This story missed huge opportunities to inform the public about the role of money in campaigns and what that means to our Democracy.
Newsreader – The big money shows why Michigan is such a battle ground state for the 2004 votes, once more it’s an even split…half went to Republicans, half to Democrats. Grand Rapids political reporter Peter Ross says some of the biggest donors were clustered here in Michigan.
Reporter Peter Ross – That’s right 15 of the 100 top political givers in 2000 came from Michigan, more than any other state. Amway co-founder Jay Van Andel at number 10 donated over $400,000 to Michigan’s republican state committee back then, but for the most part, then, as well as now, the money comes in in small amounts.
(Cuts to video b-roll at the Women’s Expo in the Convention Center)
You can find a lot at the Women’s Expo, including President Bush (woman standing next to cardboard cut out).
Woman – “Republican women are the life of the party.”
Reporter – Sharon is one of them.
Sharon – “I have more time than money.”
Reporter – But she gives a little money to the Grand Old party.
Sharon – “It’s the grassroots effort that wins everything.”
Woman – “If you buy a donkey button, I’ll give you a John Kerry button.”
Reporter – Across the hall another small donor. Democrat Margaret Tenbrink.
Margaret – “Not all of us have the $1,000 to give or the $2,000, or can’t afford to buy them $5,000 a dinner tickets.”
(cuts to Democratic party fundraiser)
Reporter – The Democrats raised $11 million at their unity dinner last night in Washington, a record. While President Bush has just passed his goal of raising $170 million dollars for his re-election. A small amount of that came from Jeff Burns of Wyoming.
Jeff Burns – “It’s too bad we have to raise so much money to win a campaign.”
Reporter – A bunch of that money is coming from Michigan, although Antoniette may not write a check.
Antoniette – “I’m unemployed right now, so it would take a lot.”
(Cuts to reporter back in newsroom.)
Reporter – President Bush has raised a lot more money than John Kerry has, that’s why you haven’t seen any Kerry TV commercials here in West Michigan yet, although you have see spots from groups like MoveOn.org and the Media Fund that are trying to counter Bush’s fund raising advantage.
Total time: 2 minutes and 12 seconds