The Summer (and Autumn) of Dark Money


Foul-mouthed adman and blogger George Parker talked recently with fellow Brit Nicole Powers, in a conversation published on the Suicide Girls website, about the American Dream, the ad business, Super PACs, and what Parker calls the coming “shitstorm” of Citizen United-enabled political advertisements.

It is expected that during the current US presidential election cycle spending on ads will reach $11 billion. That total would be more than twice what was spent during the 2008 campaign.

“Before the shitstorm…we’ve got the Olympics, which is another favorite of corporate America,” Parker said. “There’s going to be banks and car companies and everything ‘going for the gold.’ And Team USA, ‘You say jump, we say how high,’ – every cliché you can possibly imagine. For months we’re going to have that, and then as soon as that’s over, in fact probably while it’s still on, the political shit is going to start happening. The election isn’t until November, so we’re definitely going to have August, September, October, and then whatever is left of November. The sheer volume of it is going to be so heavy this year, and also it’s going to be extremely negative.”

Adds Powers: “I was chatting with investigative journalist Greg Palast, and he was talking about how one of the reasons that you will never see the mainstream media covering Citizens United with the gravitas that it deserves is because it’s the very piece of legislation that’s responsible for this massive bonanza of advertising income. In a climate where marketing budgets have been slashed, political advertising is like manna from heaven. So the TV companies are not going to allow their news networks to explain to the masses why Citizens United has subverted the political system in the way it has.”

Parker responds: “What is happening and is about to happen in spades with political advertising, this already happened with pharmaceutical and medical advertising. No other country in the world advertises prescription drugs. Actually, up until about 10 years ago New Zealand of all places did, but they pulled it because it was just so awful. If you look at particularly network news, it’s just full of pharmaceutical ads. NBC, which is owned by General Electric, if you watch the evening news with Brian Williams, there’s always a medical piece in it. They call it world news and there’s like ten seconds of world, ten minutes of America, and 20 minutes of medical shit.”

The entire interview can be found on the Suicide Girls site.

See also Andy Kroll’s “Follow the Dark Money” article at Mother Jones for in-depth coverage of this issue.

Kevin Nolan writes essays and fiction. More from this author →