The Presidential Election dominates the news, but there's so much information it's hard to know what to look for.
For this activity you can look at the election in one of two ways:
Option One: "Taking Out The Spin" -- Untruth in Political Advertising.
This option focuses on the two major parties (the Republicans and the
Democrats) and their candidates because only they have enough money to
run a lot of political ads. You watch and compare candidates' ads and
then use Fact Check to learn what is true and false.
Option Two: "Voter's Self-Defense System" -- How Do the Candidates Match Up?
You can look at all five candidates and compare their positions.
Minority parties say there's not much difference between the two major
parties. Are they right? Are the minor parties--the Libertarians, the
Nader independents, and the Greens--all that different?
VUceptor module guide (PDF)
will need at least one computer with projection screen and Internet
connection for this activity. For a more dynamic session, ask five
students to bring their laptops so that smaller groups of students can
work on different aspects of the topic simultaneously. Alternatively,
for this session you can schedule the Electronic Classroom in the main
library building by contacting Sue Erickson (2-0155) at least two days
before the session, or reserve the Peabody Library Learning Commons by
"Taking Out the Spin" -- Untruth in Political Advertising
We look at political advertisements and see whether they tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
To find ads, each group should go to the "Search Criteria" section of C-SPAN Politics
The group can leave the candidate field blank to find ads from all
candidates and enter their topic in the "search title or description"
Groups can also go to these sites to find additional ads:
The viewing of the ads may be guided by these questions:
1. Which of these ads focus on specific issues, on values, or on personalities?
2. Which of these ads make positive statements about the sponsoring candidate or negative statements about other candidates?
3. Which ads do you think are most effective?
4. How accurate are these ads?
check the accuracy of the ads, go to the Fact Check search site, and
enter your one-word topic in the "Search FactCheck Archive" box. You
will find an analysis of some of the statements and ads from each
Monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major candidates and
their supporters in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews,
and news releases.
Check out the "truth-o-meter" and "attack files" tabs. You can choose
the "candidates" tab to see the overall truthfulness score for major
candidates and their supporters. You can also enter an issue (for
example, abortion) in the search box hidden in the bottom right of the
"Voter's Self-Defense System" -- How Do the Candidates Match Up?
parties say that the two major parties are tweedledee and
tweedledum--not much difference between them. Are the minor
parties--the Libertarians, the Nader independents, and the Greens--all
Each group looks at one topic and compares the positions of McCain, Obama, and their choice of one minor candidate.
Comparing the positions may be guided by these questions:
1. How specific or general are the candidates' responses?
2. On what issues do the candidates seem to have similar positions? On
what issues do they have the most disagreements?
3. Which candidates seem to be left-of-center and which seem to be right-of-center?
4. Do you completely agree with any one candidate? If not, which candidates appeal to you on which issues?
Just for fun!
The Living Room Candidate
Courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image, this site features
presidential campaign ads throughout television history.