Full-Disclosure Filibuster

Sen. McConnell (R-KY), Chief Obstructionist

There was a time when the PR industry took it on the chin for its supposed lack of transparency. Specifically, groups like PR Watch and others chastised our brethren for failing to disclose who’s paying for the hand-out video picked up and used in broadcast and cable news programming.

It got so bad that hearings were held on Capitol Hill to ferret out the perpetrators of this hoodwinking of the American people. I wrote about it at the time, and followed up with a second post talking about how more and more digital marketers think it’s cool to create edgy (and virally aspirant) video without identifying the sponsor.

This practice is wrong, if not downright deceptive. Yet, here we are today confronting a much more sinister threat to full disclosure, brought about by the most conservative Supreme Court in decades. The GOP has threatened to filibuster a decidedly consumer-friendly legislative effort that will simply require political advertising to reveal its funders. Sure sounds like a good idea, right? Here’s what our President had to say:

“You’d think that making these reforms would be a matter of common sense, particularly since they primarily involve just making sure that folks who are financing these ads are disclosed, so that the American people can make up their own minds,” Obama said. “Nobody is saying you can’t run the ads; just make sure the people know who in fact is behind financing the ads.”

Don’t you want to know, or have the right to know, that Exxon-Mobil has underwritten the ad campaign to re-elect Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), a notorious climate warming-denier?

Yet, for whatever reason, there’s no appreciable public outrage. If there is, it is sadly diffused or muddled across this atomized media landscape. As a result, a most worthy piece of legislation may just fail at the hands of the Party that puts the replenishment of their own financial coffers and their re-election above the interests of the American people. Shame on us for letting it happen.