Astroturfing The Airwaves: Anonymous Donor Groups Drive Total Right-Wing TV Ads Above 100,000 Since Aug. 1

October 25, 2010 12:03 pm ET — Alan Pyke

With the busiest week for political advertising still to come, the ten biggest right-wing ad groups have aired 99,773 TV ads since August 1, according to ad data reviewed by Political Correction. The groups have spent $95.5 million that we know about in that time, and probably millions more that escape the FEC's disclosure requirements (click to enlarge):

That's a surge of 18,000 new ads in a week, and it's fueled primarily by groups that never disclose their donors to the public. Specifically, the Chamber of Commerce spent another $9.8 million last week, and former Sen. Norm Coleman's American Action Network dropped $5.4 million, according to FEC filings. We do not know, and will never know, where that money comes from. But we know where it went: AAN's ad total jumped by fully 6,000 spots in a week, many of which repeat the sleazy, dishonest charge that House Democrats voted to give Viagra to rapists. The Chamber boosted its already-massive total by 5,000 ads. Together with the Tea Party's corporate backers at Americans for Prosperity and the Crossroads GPS money mill, the "big three" heavy-hitters have bought 46,947 ads since August 1 (click to enlarge):

That's almost as many from the heavy-hitters as from the next ten biggest groups, which we've dubbed the "small fry." Of these ten groups, only the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association are required to disclose donors publicly. Together, the "small fry" have posted nearly 49,000 TV ads since August started (click to enlarge):

Of course, there are many, many more groups than would ever fit into a simple chart. According to the data we review, 59 different conservative groups outside of the official party structure have run ads since August began, with the shocking total of 128,936 spots airing on American TV in that time. At 30 seconds per ad, that's over 1,074 hours — about 45 days — of right-wing TV.

If you're curious about the content of those thousand hours, take a look at our ad check page. You'll find that much of what's airing this election season is deceptive, dishonest, or downright false. The Grand Old Party is trying to ride to power on a tidal wave of misinformation.