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Framed: Proposition 32's Deceptive TV Ad




The Koch brothers entered California’s political fray September 14, a Friday, with a $4 million donation to a new pro-Proposition 32 political entity called California Future Fund. By Tuesday, September 18, the fund had released its first TV spot, titled “Telephoto.” What does $4 million in Koch cash buy? Let’s take a look at this half-minute spot, shot by shot.

00 min. 01 sec. – If we had millions of dollars of Koch brother money, maybe we could afford a telephoto lens too.

00:06 – Clearly not shot with a telephoto lens. Thematically, the scene should have been shot through the open window. Instead, our supposedly heroic cameraperson with a telephoto lens of moral clarity is physically inside the room with the shady suits. They look quite comfortable with his presence. A perfect metaphor for Prop. 32.

00:10 – “Big corporations and government unions control politicians,” our ominously-voiced narrator tells us. In the backdrop, we’re given eight examples of the “15 that spent $1 billion”—presumably on political lobbying. Interestingly, there are three Indian tribes, two energy companies, one hospital trade association, one energy trade association and the California Chamber of Commerce shown on the list. Six out of eight of these entities would be completely unaffected by the restrictions of Prop. 32.

Indian tribes are neither corporations nor unions whose members pay mandatory dues. Trade associations are 501(c)(6) non-profits that are not required to disclose their backing—even if it comes from industry or foreign sources. The only ones potentially affected would be the energy companies. Even then, these companies would only be prevented from using involuntary contributions collected from employees—which rarely happens, if it does at all. Additionally, nothing in Prop. 32 prevents energy companies from simply funneling their political money through a trade organization — like the Western States Petroleum Association listed on the ad.

We’re starting to verge on incompetence here. The only thing saving this ad is Phillip Glass’ little cousin’s musical score. Nice Halloween-style piano riff in the background.

00:14 – Of course the visual representation of California’s “11 percent unemployment” is a minority woman filling out some kind of form. Let us guess – unemployment papers? food stamp application, perhaps? Subtle.

00:16 – A little child, meanwhile is “overtaxed.”

Let’s take a brief pause to check in with a couple of what appear to be dozens of paid supportive comments for the ad on YouTube.

this video never getsÓ old , i? say HOLY SHIT ! every time .

CoKhiThanhHoang 3 days ago

Government union workers are 1 percenters. They’re the new elite in our society. They’re basically on par withÓ big corporation executives in terms of income for the amount of work they do. 2 major economic evils in our society, Wall Street & government unions.

Jamal8Locke 4 days ago

Yes, “Jamal,” California teachers and their $67,000 average annual salary are clearly fighting Jamie Dimon and Brian T. Moynihan for tee times at the country club.

Great implied ethnic diversity of these commenters, by the way. Nothing cynical about that at all.

Good times. OK, onward.

00:20 — $50 billion spent on education for frustrated kids, whose limitless academic potential is idled away in the hallways thanks to…

00:23 — …you sleepy minorities screwing it all up with your poor performance!

00:28 – Love the collection of disaffected minorities they put together to front the effort. They even put a ginger in there! South Park would be proud. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone depicted in the ad, with the possible exception of our aforementioned ginger friend, would be adversely affected by Prop. 32. This bill’s roster of financial backers reads like Forbes’ annual list of billionaires, if you replaced Oprah with Fred Phelps and his entire Westboro Baptist Church congregation.

00:31 – Put people back in charge…people who happen to be billionaires. Yes on Prop. 32!


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