The Hightower Report

Family Values, and Inescapable TV Ads


I yearn for the good ol' days when a TV was a device under my control. It sat quietly in my home, doing nothing, until I beckoned it to perform. And if it blared an annoying ad at me – why, I had the power of the remote to switch channels or hit the mute button.

Alas, the TV has now escaped from the home and positioned itself all over today's society to assault us. It can be as annoying as it wants to be, and we have no remote, no mute, no power to turn it off. We're confronted with screens in elevators, taxicabs, grocery carts, at gas pumps, in the checkout lines of stores – all jabbering at us to buy toilet cleanser and diet soda.

Digital TV networks are already wired into 20% of supermarkets and 11% of office buildings. Wal-Mart now has 125,000 screens in its stores and actually encourages advertisers to think of its stores as an advertising medium and its customers as viewers.

"It's what we call 360 marketing," says one advertiser, meaning that no matter where you turn, there will be an ad. There's even a company that targets sick people, having put screens in nearly 11,000 doctors' offices. "You reach a very targeted audience," brags an executive with this outfit. "They're just about to talk to their doctor, and it's a very credible advertising environment," she beams.

Appropriately, the corporations cluttering our environment with these screens have such names as Captivate and Monster Media. They're planning to saturate every place with what they call out-of-home video ads.

Yet, believe it or not, some people are so zoned-out that they claim to like the screens. One 24-year-old guy says that he sometimes sits on the benches at a mall and watches the ads!

Now that's pathetic. To help keep America from becoming a nation of ad watchers, call Commercial Alert: 503/235-8012.


Thank you, Newt Gingrich! A grateful nation rises in gratitude for the moral example that you provide to our youth!

This former House speaker, right-wing darling, would-be president, and self-avowed champion of family values is showing us that hypocrisy is not just a word – it's a way of life.

You might remember that Newt was leading the moral brigade in Congress back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was being pounded for his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky. Nearly a decade later, however, Gingrich has confessed that "yes," he was having his very own extramarital affair at the exact same time as Bill's.

But this is hardly his only dance with marital hypocrisy. Let's go back to spouse No. 1, Jackie. She had been his high school geometry teacher before becoming his loyal political wife. Unbeknownst to her, though, the randy new Congress critter had a 1977 affair in Washington, D.C., with Anne. That passed, but Newt then moved on to another secret affair, this time with Marianne.

She seemed to be a keeper, so in 1981, while wife Jackie was recuperating in a hospital from cancer surgery, our boy Newt confronted her with divorce demands. Gingrich doesn't deny doing this, but he says he doesn't remember it. The amnesia defense. Six months later, he married Marianne.

But, oops, the moral scamp still couldn't stop his wandering ways. While continuing to posture as a family-values champion in Congress, Newt was having yet another extramarital dalliance. This one was with Callista, a congressional aide 20 years his younger. In 2000, he divorced Marianne and married Callista.

Newt is considering running for president in 2008. Presumably, Callista would be running for first lady – assuming she's still around. What a perfect moral example Gingrich will present to the public – a perfect example of moral hypocrisy, that is.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, advertising, Commercial Alert

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