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by Dale Connelly, 11/26/99

DC: An increasingly common practice in politics is to place so called "issue ads" on TV that seem to "explain" an area of political disagreement but actually advocate for a particular candidate or party. One area where issue ads are proving quite useful is in the volatile debate over federal rules that would limit ... issue ads.
With us is issue ad producer Tamara Henry. What's really at stake here?

Tamara: What's at stake is the right every American has to exercise free speech by producing a polished, provocative 30 second spot and then scheduling a nationwide or regionally targeted multi million dollar TV ad campaign!

DC: It doesn't sound free.

Tamara: The actual speech is free. The delivery is what costs. Getting it into homes.

DC: So this is about ... preserving the cost of delivering free speech?

Tamara: Delivering and producing. Producing first, THEN delivering.

DC: You've done some issue ads about the issue ads issue.

Tamara: Would you like to see one?

DC: Sure.

(sfx: morning in America music)

Narr: (beef) It's Morning in America. Eager consumers of information are waking up ... and turning on their TV's so they can be fed.
But there are people in Congress who want to limit your information diet ... and who say the issue advertisements you enjoy are "too emotional," and "too simple" to be believed.
What they really mean is that they think you are too simple to be believed!
But others, like, Congressman Loomis Beechly, say you have the right to understand the issues as much, or as little, as you please.
And Congressman Beechly has pledged to protect your right to be superficial, or naiive, or just plain ignorant about any issue before our nation.
Your heartstrings and hot buttons are Yours. If you want them to be plucked and pushed, that's YOUR business, not Washington's.
Call or write your congressman to say ... "hands off issue advertising."

Tamara: Isn't that great? I love it.

DC: What do you love about it?

Tamara: (soapbox) It lifts up the common person. It's a call to action for them to stand up for themselves, to rally to the cause, to defend their right to consume the information of their choice. And it respects them for being able to decide about things for themselves, without big brother pandering or holding their hands! And that's what I'm most proud of! The Respect!

DC: I noticed that the name of Congressman Beechly seemed to be dropped in after the fact.

Tamara: Yes, well ... we're running this ad in at least a dozen districts around the country, with different members of congress each time.

DC: But it sounds ... patched together. Doesn't that hurt your message?

Tamara: (laughing) Oh, people aren't THAT sophisticated! Most of 'em ... I mean, they're air breathers, but just barely! Ha! They'd never notice something like that.

DC: But you said this is about respect.

Tamara: Yeah, but ... for instance, I got a call the other day from a woman who said she was all fired up because she had seen our ad about that thing congress wanted to do to Tissue advertising! Ha!
(laughs) She said she'd be mad as hell if they took all the toilet paper ads off TV ... she wouldn't know which kind to buy! (dissolves in laughter)

DC: Tamara Henry is a producer ...

Tamara: Down at the office we refer to it as the "Mrs. Whipple" incident! Ha ha ha ha ha!

DC: ... a producer of so-called "issue ads," which are at the center of the debate concerning campaign finance reform.

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