Accentuating the Negative

They were called "roarbacks," those last-minute campaign charges of doubtful validity and howling viciousness that were so common in 19th century American politics. In this more enlightened age of television and marketing, the term has been forgotten, but the tactic endures. Indeed, negative political advertising seems to be growing, and getting meaner, in the closing weeks of this year's campaign.

Mudslinging has become an issue in itself in the Massachusetts congressional race between Republican Margaret Heckler and Democrat Barney Frank, two incumbents who face each other as a result of redistricting. Among $220,000 worth of Heckler television commercials that hit the air...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!