Set your TiVos for tonight's episode of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, where the special guest will be November's cover story author David Mark. In "Attack Ads Are Good For You," Mark whole-heartedly defends the commercials and attacks so regularly derided by politicians, pundits, and academics.
Few if any officeholders will openly admit to negative campaigning. To candidates, criticizing an opponent's voting record is properly called comparative advertising, and spotlighting a rival's marital infidelity is merely raising character issues. Campaign tactics that to one voter seem misleading, mean-spirited, or immoral can impart to another important and relevant information about how the candidate would perform under the pressures of public office. Negative campaigning, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Before he tackled the subject for Reason, Mark penned Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning. He plugged the book and the cover story in a C-Span interview that we'll link when it goes online.