Thursday, October 20, 2011

Conway ad poses contrast with Washington, gives him credit for budget cuts that he was forced to make

By Rachel Bryant
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Candidate: Jack Conway, Democrat
Election: Attorney General, Nov. 8

Male narrator: While Washington politicians waste our money, Kentucky’s Attorney General Jack Conway fights for us. (Soft music) Conway cut his own pay. Conway cut the staff in his own office by 20 percent. Then Conway went out and saved taxpayers even more; he prosecuted fraud saving another $200 million. (Pleasant music) Kentucky deserves an attorney general just as tough on the budget as he is on criminals. Jack Conway: real results for Kentucky.
The U.S. Capitol appears on a black screen with money in the background. The words “Washington Wastes Our Money” come into view, followed by small images of Conway talking to people shift onto the screen with the words “Jack Conway fights for us” in capital letters. A narrow strip of small pictures appears at the bottom of the screen and moves horizontally throughout the ad, with hands in cuffs and jail cells among the images. The next scene shows Conway walking down a hall, talking to a man wearing a suit, and the words “Jack Conway cut his own pay” in capital letters.
The next scene is a head-and-shoulders, rear-view shot of people in line, standing or walking. Conway then talks to more people as the screen reads in capital letters “Conway saved taxpayers even more.” Three newspaper articles about Conway’s legal actions are superimposed in the next scene with small video frames of a jail door and him talking to a police officer. The phrase “Saving $200 Million” starts small in the middle of the screen and grows slightly larger. The picture of Conway talking to the officer appears again, but bigger, and there are computers in the scene with charts and graphs and Conway’s name superimposed. The words “tough on the budget” and “tough on criminals” in capital letters appear side by side. The ad ends with Conway walking and talking to a woman in an official setting with the words “Jack Conway for Attorney General. Real results for Kentucky” superimposed.
Republican opponent Todd P’Pool’s ads criticize Conway for supporting President Obama’s policies, and this ad attempts to contrast Conway with Washington politicians, with whom voters are unhappy.
Elected officials cannot legally cut their own pay, so Conway voluntarily gave back 10 percent of his salary by writing a check for $7,246 to the state last year, following an example set by Gov. Steve Beshear. He also makes donations for the furlough days that state employees are required to take off. He was also forced by Beshear to make budget cuts which led him to cut his own office staff.
The ad does not specify how Conway has prosecuted fraud or where the $200 million came from. His campaign website says he recovered $175 million in Medicaid funds and “fined oil companies who gouged taxpayers at the pump.” But neither the ad nor the website say Conway failed to get a temporary injunction against Marathon Petroleum Co. for alleged price gouging.
The ad keeps busy with a lot of images and fast scene changes; it may leave the viewer with the feeling that Conway accomplishes a lot and is always on the go. The same pictures appear throughout the ad: police, jail cells, and hand cuffs, suggesting that Conway is serious about crime. The image of people standing or walking in line, reiterating that Conway was forced to cut his staff, could be inferred to be an unemployment line, appealing to voters’ unhappiness with government and even government employees. Newspaper headlines add legitimacy to the ad’s claims. Pie charts and graphs, which represent facts, appear in the background of a scene and may imply that the ad is factual.

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