Max Frankel is a former correspondent and editor of The New York Times. His most recent book is High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis.


The Elections: A Modest Proposal

A still from a television ad paid for by Restore Our Future, a Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney for president
Every election year brings vivid reminders of how money distorts our politics, poisons our lawmaking, and inevitably widens the gulf between those who can afford to buy influence and the vast majority of Americans who cannot. In 2012, this gulf will become a chasm: one analysis predicts that campaign spending …


Politics and Television: How To Level the Field

Dozens of televisions display a political ad showing Newt Gingrich, Urbandale, Iowa, December 27, 2011

With campaign spending likely to exceed $6 billion, the 2012 elections will be the most expensive in history. Why do the candidates need all that money? Because electoral success requires them to buy endless hours of television time for commercials that advertise their virtues—and, more often, roundly assail their opponents. And we all know that those sordid slanders work unless they are instantly answered with equally facile and equally expensive rebuttals.There are no easy ways to repair our election system. But a large degree of fairness could be restored to our campaigns if we level the TV playing field. Here’s how to do it.