If you haven’t noticed the political season is on in the United States, you will soon. The Blogosphere will soon be overrun with political blogs and blogs promoting US presidential and other candidates.
For me, this is a time when freedom of speech and objectivity in journalism clashes with the blogging spirit. It’s a mess no matter how you look at it.
Here’s a fact that may surprise you: Candidates have a legal right to lie to voters just about as much as they want.
That comes as a shock to many. After all, consumers have been protected for decades from false ads for commercial products. Shouldn’t there be “truth-in-advertising” laws to protect voters, too?
Turns out, that’s a tougher question than you might imagine.
For one thing, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” and that applies to candidates for office especially. And secondly, in the few states that have enacted laws against false political ads, they haven’t been very effective.