Fear in Political Advertising

Emotions run high during presidential election years. This has always been the case. In the election of 1800, a Federalist newspaper supporting incumbent President John Adams wrote that if the former Vice President Thomas Jefferson were elected, “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” That election set the stage for mudslinging and a language of fear that has since consumed electoral politics, especially during times of crises.

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