CCLP, Harvard IOP and Bloomberg panel discuss the controversy over Super PACs and campaign financing at the RNC

On Sunday, August 26, 2012, the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy presented a panel alongside Bloomberg and the Harvard Institute of Politics at the Bloomberg Link in Tampa, Florida on the eve of the postponed Republican National Convention. While the convention was officially postponed until Tuesday, August 28, 2012, due to the looming threat of Hurricane Isaac, the pre-convention event successfully went off without postponement creating engaging conversations about the role of media in political discourse among leading news media professionals, political pundits, and leading academics.

For the official transcript of the event, please click the following link: politics and the media panel transcript 8.26.12.pdf and watch the full panel discussion by clicking here.

American Politics and the Media: Bloomberg Panel

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) — Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, Mike Murphy, Republican political strategist, Charles Spies, founder of Restore Our Future, and Bill Burton, senior strategist with Priorities USA, participate in a panel discussion about U.S. politics and the media at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. The panel is moderated by Al Hunt, Washington editor at Bloomberg News. Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer at Bloomberg News, Geoffrey Cowan of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Trey Grayson of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times also speak. (Source: Bloomberg)


Key insights to the panel discussed how the dissemination of political information is filtered by and distributed to the public during election season on both traditional media outlets (television, newspapers, radio) and new media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.). With the complexity of the new media landscape as it opens up to self-publishing news sources via social media outlets, the challenge remains how to distinguish the experts from the novice news media interpreters in the during the political election 2.0.

Leading off the discussion with statistics regarding how voters retain and gather their political information was the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief David Lauter. Lauter discussed results from the USC Annenberg-Los Angeles Times Poll on Politics and the Press, which was conducted immediately following the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan as the Republican candidate for Vice President.

Lauter offered interesting insights on how Republicans, Democrats, and Independents utilize different news sources. While traditional media proves to be the source relied on for general news and political news, Lauter pointed out that Democrats lean towards higher consumption rates of digital news media sources.

“Conservatives audience is much more brand loyal and concentrated in what media they use. You can see that in any Republican primary. If you want to advertise in a Republican Primary, you go to Fox and talk radio you don’t have to advertise a huge amount in other media outlets. Whereas, for Democrats and Independents the media landscape is much more spread out and somewhat more diversified in their media choices.”
-David Lauter

Lauter continued to discuss social media’s role in reporting political news breaking down demographic audience response to the use of social media and political news consumption. In the 18-49 age demographic 1 in 4 uses Facebook on a daily basis to get information about politics. Notably, said information is often aggregated from a traditional news source re-published through their online digital outlet.

This is the year of election 2.0 in which the public’s relationship with the news is becoming increasingly finite and truncated by the real-time news feeds of Twitter, Facebook, and outlying social media subgroups. Twitter created the “Twitter Political Index” which tracks the candidates reach on twitter with a real-time index of how the candidates are being talked about on twitter. Facebook teamed up with CNN to launch “Election Insights” which is a real-time index of how the candidates are being discussed broken down by various demographics.

At the close of Lautner’s presentation it is clear there is a shifting trend in the way political parties will look to advertise during this campaign year and elections to come.

As the panel proceeded under the moderation of Al Hunt, Washington editor at Bloomberg News, panelists were asked pertinent questions regarding this election season’s rise of Super PACs and their influence over the Media.

Panelist seamed neutral on their prognosis of the rise of the Super PAC’s and their influence on the future of politics. Mike Murphy, republican strategist offered interesting comparative insights relating the amount of campaign financing to advertising dollars spent in the US to reach registered voters. During the election year it appears politics is an industry and a business well oiled by the existence and over abundance of Super PACs.

Closing comments raised the question about how campaign financing should be moderated in the future and how Media organizations need to raise mindfulness about campaign advertising dollars effect on media portrayals to the public.

Watch the full panel discussion by clicking here.

See photos from the event in the Flickr slideshow here.