Schieffer: How social media redfine attack ads

What have we learned in this campaign so far? Mainly that money is still the most powerful force in American politics, and that the Internet has made negative ads more powerful than ever.

Take the case of Newt Gingrich. He zoomed to the top of the polls until Mitt Romney and Ron Paul dumped a load of negative ads on him. Down he went.

The Romney people were saying Newt's fall wasn't all their doing - the ads ran only in Iowa, and Gingrich's popularity also went down in New Hampshire and South Carolina, too.

Well, that's not quite right: The ads WERE seen in those states, and everywhere else! Not once but over and over - on cable shows and websites, and then hashed out on blogs, Twitter and Facebook and all the places people get their news today.

When the Berlin Wall fell, I remember writing that in the television age there were no secrets on the other side of the tracks - people in the East could see a better way of life in the West on television and they wanted it, and the wall came down.

In the age of the Internet, we see not just beyond the tracks but over the mountains BEHIND the tracks and behind the house and under the bed.

A television ad runs in Iowa and in seconds it's being seen in Bangor, Maine and Waco, Texas.

This is probably better over all, but not always - social media has redefined privacy, everything is out there now, and I can't get very excited about extending the reach of negative ads.

But as a friend of mine who used to work here once said, "That's the way it is."

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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