Matt Lauer Challenges California's Gubernatorial Candidates to "Stop the Negative Ads" Opinion: Stop with the "Stop with the Negative Ads"

During this week's debate, Matt Lauer asked Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to pull their negative ads. It's sounds nice, but it's a silly idea.

During a recent debate in the gubernatorial race in California, Matt Lauer asked Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown if they would both pledge to pull their negative ads from the air during these last few days of the campaign. It made for good television.


Lauer's challenge certainly got the audience fired up, but I think the idea that pulling negative ads will solve the problems with political campaigns is totally misguided.

First, how do you decide what exactly is a negative ad? Matt Lauer says "If it smells like negativity, it's negativity" but I'm not sure that homey aphorism would really hold up as a litmus test. This ad, for example, talks mostly about Jerry Brown's record of accomplishments during his first stint as governor of California, but it's all in service of one devastating anti-Whitman zinger. It's hardly an attack ad, but it smells like negativity to me.

Here's another example. The Brown campaign used footage from Lauer's on-stage challenge to make a new YouTube ad, below.


Did you notice the mind-bending irony? In the clip, Meg Whitman defends a candidate's right to air ads that criticize an opponent's positions on the issues. And the Brown campaign has used that footage to craft an ad criticizing her position on that issue. In other words, this Brown ad is criticizing Whitman's defense of negative ads, but it is itself an instance of the kind of negative ad Whitman is defending. It's real Lewis Carroll territory. It also demonstrates that defining negativity in a useful way is hard.

Moreover, weaknesses in a candidate's background or views should be fair game in a campaign. The idea that voters could make an informed decision in a campaign that's totally devoid of criticism is ridiculous. Imagine a candidate has a history of corruption. That's relevant. Voters should know. Imagine a candidate promises (with positivity!) to balance the budget and cut taxes across the board and expand services. His opponent should be able to point out that that's impossible.

And at the end of the day, the biggest problem with campaigns isn't negativity; it's superficiality. Positive and negative ads alike regularly trade in misleading and vague language that's designed to take advantage of voters' lack of understanding. Matt Lauer would have done the public a better service by asking the candidates to sustain a clear, substantive, and yes, critical discussion of any given issue facing the state.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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