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Monday, July 16, 2012

Pay-TV industry not united on TV Everywhere

The pay-TV industry is divided over how best to implement TV Everywhere, an initiative to let subscribers watch content online from PCs, phones or tablets.

Pay-TV industry not united on TV Everywhere
Time Warner's TNT requires viewers to register online before allowing them access to TV content online. (TNT / July17, 2012)

Want to watch an episode of TNT's"The Closer" online?
You have to fill out a form on TNT's website, proving you have a cable or satellite television subscription. And your cable or satellite provider also needs to have a deal with TNT to carry its content online.
But if you want to check out A&E's new drama "Longmire," just visit the cable channel's website and your mouse gets you in. No forms or proof of a pay-TV subscription are necessary.
The differing approaches by Time Warner's TNT and A&E, which is majority owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., illustrates a divide in the media industry over how best to put content on the Web while also keeping customers hooked to their TVs.
In 2009, cable giant Comcast Corp.and Time Warner — parent of TNT, TBS, HBO and other popular channels — unveiled TV Everywhere, an initiative that was to be a blueprint for the pay-TV industry to develop a platform to let subscribers watch content on their computers, phones or tablets. The proposition was simple enough: Take all that is good about television — lots of channels at the click of a button — and transfer it online.
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'Larry King Now' talk show debuts on Hulu

The 78-year-old broadcaster comes out of retirement to host the new 30-minute Internet show, described as a more freewheeling version of his CNN show. To read the story click on More...

Larry King
Larry King interviews Meghan McCain for an episode of "Larry King Now" which debuts on Hulu this week. (Hulu /July 16, 2012)

'Iron Man 3' most talked about online, but 'Oz' gets best buzz. Nickelodeon ratings tumble from loss of carriage on DirecTV. Comcast says government needs to stay out of programming business. Warner Bros. brings Hollywood luxury to VIP tent.

"SpongeBob SquarePants"
"SpongeBob SquarePants" has taken a hit from losing DirecTV viewers. (Nickelodeon / July 16, 2012)

From the LA Times Company Town Blog

Ratings for Viacom's Nickelodeon have fallen dramatically in the days since the channel was dropped from satellite broadcaster DirecTV over a fee dispute.

On July 10, the last day Nickelodeon had distribution on DirecTV, its total day audience was about 1.8 million. On July 11, that figure fell 33% to 1.2 million.  On Friday, the average was up slightly to 1.3 million.

Losing carriage on DirecTV couldn't have come at a worse time for Nickelodeon. The cable network, which caters its programming to kids and teens with shows that include "SpongeBob SquarePants"and "Dora the Explorer," has seen its audience shrink over the past year while rival Disney Channel has made gains.

While talks are ongoing between DirecTV and Viacom, neither side has indicated that a deal is near. Viacom took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times today encouraging DirecTV subscribers to switch services.

A Viacom spokesman noted that the ratings drop is not surprising given how popular Nickelodeon is on DirecTV. "It's the most watched cable network on DirecTV," the spokesman said.

Other Viacom channels have also seen a loss of viewers. MTV's total day average went from almost 500,000 viewers on July 10 to 273,000 on July 13, a 43% dip. VH1 has dropped almost 30% of its audience and Comedy Central is off 21% for the same period.

Comcast doesn't want the government playing backseat driver. (Bloomberg / July 16, 2012)

Comcast Corp. has a message for the government: Don't tell us which channels to carry.

"The government does not -- and cannot -- tell the Washington Post what columns to carry, or what sections of the paper to put them in, or what days of the week to run them," wrote Kyle McSlarrow, president of Comcast/NBCUniversal Washington, D.C., in a blog post.

"It doesn't tell Amazon what books to sell, or to recommend to its customers," he added. " It doesn't dictate what films Netflix licenses, or features.  It doesn't specify which TV shows should be available on Hulu and which should be on Hulu Plus."

That being the case, McSlarrow said, why should regulators have any role "in determining which networks a cable operator carries, what tiers they should be placed on, what channel numbers they should be assigned, and how much cable operators (and their customers) should pay for those channels?"

McSlarrow's blog post was aimed at the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to rule soon on a dispute that the cable giant is having with the Tennis Channel.

At issue is how Comcast offers the Tennis Channel as opposed to similar cable networks that it owns. Last December, an FCC administrative judge ruled that Comcast had discriminated against the small, independently owned Tennis Channel by putting it at a competitive disadvantage. It did so, the judge said, by not placing the Tennis Channel in the same package of channels in which Comcast sold its own Golf Network and NBC Sports Network.

No time frame has been set for the FCC to weigh in on the judge's ruling.

In his post, McSlarrow said the FCC judge's ruling misinterprets a regulation aimed at preventing cable operators from discriminating against independent cable networks.

"Though undoubtedly well-intentioned, the ALJ’s ruling was a breathtaking regulatory overreach," McSlarrow opined. He noted that Comcast was already carrying Tennis Channel in a sports package as per its agreement with the network. "Other major multichannel video distributors have made similar carriage decisions, and six of the top 20 largest video distributors refuse to carry Tennis Channel at all," he said.

McSlarrow acknowledged that it distributes Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network to more customers than Tennis Channel, but added "that’s also true of virtually every major distributor in the marketplace, even including the satellite companies that hold major equity interests in Tennis Channel."

The judge, McSlarrow said, "appears to have impermissibly conflated the concepts of discrimination and differential treatment."

Comcast fears that if the Tennis Channel wins, it will lead other programmers to charge discrimination if they don't like their channel placement.

In a statement, the Tennis Channel said, "there is nothing new in this blog post that Comcast hasn’t already argued in front of the FCC, and that hasn’t already been rejected by the ALJ, the FCC Enforcement Bureau and the FCC Media Bureau.”

Michael Cinder waits with his family to get into Comic-Con
"Iron Man 3" was the most buzzed about Comic-Con movie online, but "Oz: The Great and Powerful" got the most positive comments. (And the "Captain America" sequel is still a couple years away.) (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / July 16, 2012)

The widely anticipated follow-ups "Iron Man 3" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" were the most talked about movies on social networks during Comic-Con, but it was the prequel "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and "The Expendables 2" that got the most positive mentions.

The data, compiled by social media research firm Fizziology, contained few surprises among the upcoming, highest-profile sequels and adaptations that were promoted at last week's San Diego convention that were mentioned the most in tweets and Facebook posts. "Oz," the Superman reboot "Man of Steel" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" followed "Iron Man" and "Hobbit" on the list.

But fans' tastes were a bit eclectic when it came to what they liked most. Behind "Oz" and the follow-up to 2009's aging action stars hit "Expendables" were "Wreck-It Ralph," Disney's upcoming animated movie set in the world of video games, the Quentin Tarantino slavery drama "Django Unchained," and "Man of Steel." Those films received the highest percentage of positive comments online.

Several movies generated largely positive response inside the San Diego Convention Center's Hall H but did not top the charts online, including the science-fiction drama "Elysium" and director Guillermo Del Toro's robots vs. monsters movie "Pacific Rim." Fizziology attributed that to the fact that there was no new or even existing footage from those movies available online for fans to link to and discuss.

Only one movie received comments that were more than 4% negative during Comic-Con, and it was one that didn't even have a panel at the event. Apparently spurred by publicity in San Diego surrounding the new Nickelodeon series featuring the same characters, discussion of Paramount's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles" reboot set for release in 2014 spiked during the event. A sizable 28% of comments were negative, indicating that fans are still upset over news from earlier in the year about changes that will be made from earlier versions of the reptile samurais.

People waiting to get into the Lionsgate/IGN party at Comic-Con International 2012
People on line hoping to get into Lionsgate and IGN's Comic-Con 2012 party. But Warner Bros.' VIP tent was even more exclusive. (Patric T. Fallon / July 15, 2012)

At this year's Comic-Con International, Warner Bros.  set up a VIP-only tent so packed with luxury that some of those allowed in said it reminded them more of the Cannes Film Festival than the annual gathering of geek fans.

There was little indication outside that there was anything special about the white tent that sprouted up for the first time this year. Located in between the San Diego Convention Center's Hall H, where the most popular panels for movies and TV shows are held, and the "Extra" stage where Warner touted many of its TV shows in an outdoor setting, it was surrounded by shrubbery.

A single entrance was flanked by two security guards who stood in front of a green carpet with velvet ropes for the VIPs exiting their cars. The only people allowed inside appeared to be Warner executives and the actors, writers, producers and directors whom the studio brought in to promote its films and TV programs.

But inside it was a world removed from the jam-packed environs of the Con, where it's often difficult for famous names to walk five feet without being accosted by fans.

As described to The Times by three attendees, guests sat on white couches and enjoyed amenities such as free foot massages and scrubs, pool tables, Xboxes, an open bar and free food, hair and makeup touch-ups, plus a Sundance-style gifting suite. Even the port-a-potties were more luxurious than those typically found at a concert or construction site.

(A Warner Bros.  spokesman said media were not allowed in and did not respond to further requests for comment).

Several Comic-Con veterans said they did not know of any other Hollywood studio going to such lengths to accommodate its VIP guests at Comic-Con in the past. But they noted that it's part of the growing alternate world for Hollywood professionals who go to San Diego for Comic-Con but can spend their days in luxury lounges and their nights at exclusive parties without ever setting foot on the show floor.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog

Call Me Maybe When Your School Loan Is Paid In Full

Some young adults say their student loan debt affects their dating and marriage potential. A few have had partners break up with them over debt, while other couples forge ahead, but keep finances separate and avoid legal marriage.
Enlarge Some young adults say their student loan debt affects their dating and marriage potential. A few have had partners break up with them over debt, while other couples forge ahead, but keep finances separate and avoid legal marriage.
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July 16, 2012
The increasing debt load of college graduates has affected young people's lives in untold ways, from career choices to living arrangements. Now add another impact on a key part of young adult life: dating and marriage.
Rachel Bingham, an art teacher in Portland, Maine, learned this a few years back, when a guy broke it off after four months of a budding relationship. Among other reasons, he cited her $80,000 in student loan debt.
"He said it scared him," she recalls, "that it really made him anxious. And he just did not want to take on my responsibility."

That made Bingham angry because she had never asked for his help. She says she has been very responsible, diligently making her loan payments.

"I was really floored at the time, because I just didn't consider that as a reason for someone to not be with someone else," she says. "I felt it was very shallow."

Bingham is now engaged to a man who's not scared off by her debt, but it turns out her ex-boyfriend was far from alone. The issue recently came up in a letter to an advice column at, a pop culture dating website. This time it was a woman wary of a serious relationship because her boyfriend has $150,000 in debt, mostly student loans.

"He was explaining his money stress to me," the woman wrote, "and I started crying because I saw the future I want falling away."

She wrote that she felt "embarrassed" about being so "selfish," and signed her letter, "Am I Being Awful?"

Caitlin Caven, who writes the site's Miss Information column, assured the woman that she's right to take a hard look at things. She suggested that a responsible approach to repayment is more important than the boyfriend's actual — admittedly staggering — amount of debt. Caven says readers also weighed in.

"There were a lot of people saying, 'Dump him, get out,' " she says. "And then there was a lot of backlash, saying, 'Hey, that's unfair. You guys are clearly not thinking about how student debt works in this country. So many people are in debt like that, that you can't just get rid of a good relationship because of it.' "

Generally, it starts with an awkward look, like, 'What have I gotten myself into?'

Caven advised the woman to keep her finances separate and consider a prenuptial agreement.

'An Impediment To Moving Forward'
When NPR asked about this issue on its Facebook page, many couples said they've avoided legal marriage so one partner wouldn't be liable for the other one's debt. In fact, responsibility for student loans does not transfer to a spouse. But, practically speaking?

"Well, once you're married, you're basically responsible for it at some level," says Bill Driscoll, a financial planner in Massachusetts. He sees the impact of student loan debt on his 30-something clients.

"It's causing uncertainty and tension," he says, "because it's an impediment to them moving forward on a lot of fronts."

Those include having a child or saving for college, saving for retirement and the biggie: buying a house.

"If they go to buy a home," says Driscoll, "and they've got $65,000 in student debt, that's going to undermine a lot of the possibilities for getting financing."

Driscoll says half of his clients don't see eye to eye when it comes to spending versus saving, so he advises hashing out a compromise plan. Mostly, he counsels couples to talk about financial problems early. But that can be hard to do.

Feeling A Stigma
"I just usually wait until it comes up and kind of clench my teeth," says

Craig Pfeister, a 29-year-old craftsman who makes guitars in Denver. He has north of $100,000 in student loans, and has grown used to the reaction that gets from dates.

"Generally, it starts with an awkward look, like, 'What have I gotten myself into?' " he says. Pfeister has come to realize that he's more comfortable dating women who also have lots of student debt.

"We can kind of laugh about it," he says, "like we're both owned by Sallie Mae. If they already have in their mind they'll have this debt for their entire life, when they hear about mine, it's just, 'Oh, you, too?' "

And if Pfeister ends up marrying more debt? Sure, it would add to his financial stress. But, he says, at least the stigma would not be just on him.


Kitty Wells It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

Kitty Wells, Pioneering Country Singer, Dies

A studio portrait of Kitty Wells in the mid-'70s.
Enlarge Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images A studio portrait of Kitty Wells in the mid-'70s.

Kitty Wells revolutionized country music by becoming its first big female solo star. Wells died today at home in Nashville, Tenn., of complications from a stroke. She was 92 years old.

Wells sang about the real problems of postwar life and the sad side of domesticity, like divorced mothers without custody in the 1950s. Robert Oermann, who co-wrote a book about the history of women in country music, says Wells was a pioneer.

"There had been females in country music from Chicago and the West Coast and from Atlanta," he says. "But Nashville and the South — there women were pushed to the background."

Wells was born in Nashville to musician parents. She quit high school to work in a shirt factory, but she eventually wound up on the radio with her singing sisters. In 1952, she shattered the rules of country music with one song she recorded as a demo: "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."

The song made her the first woman to score a solo hit on the top of the country charts. It even crossed over to the pop charts. But it was seen as incredibly controversial. The song defended women's behavior in the face of cheating men. The country music establishment was horrified, says historian Mary Bufwack.

Wells was herself quite conservative. She was not a showy or sexy performer and early on put her career aside to be with her family. She told NPR in 2008 she did not think of herself as a feminist.
"I really didn't think too much about it because I was always pretty natural with the way I felt and carried myself," she said. But after her hit, as she tells it, "Capitol Records got to recording the girl singers and so now we've [got] as many girl singers as men singers."

One of them is Emmylou Harris, who says before Kitty Wells, it was considered unseemly for a woman to get on a bus with a bunch of men to tour. "She really paved the way for a lot of women to get on that bus and ride down the road."

Steven Covey RIP

Stephen Covey's 'Habits' 
Spanned Business, Life
Stephen Covey speaks to students at the National Auditorium in Mexico City in September 2008. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Covey died Monday. He was 79.
Enlarge Gregory Bull/AP Stephen Covey speaks to students at the National Auditorium in Mexico City in September 2008. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Covey died Monday. He was 79.

Stephen Covey, the management and self-help guru who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has died. He was 79.

Covey's family said the writer and motivational speaker died at a hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho, early Monday from complications caused by a bicycle accident in April.

Covey's 7 Habits, which was first published in 1989, was on The New York Times best-seller list for more than five years. According to his longtime publicist, Covey had examined the past two centuries of literature surrounding success and turned those ideas into catchy notions, ultimately a mega-hit and a publishing and consulting empire.

Covey was a motivational speaker known for boiling down life practices that lead to action in a way that made it easy for people to understand.
Ric Feld/AP
Covey was a motivational speaker known for boiling down life practices that lead to action in a way that made it easy for people to understand.

As a young man, Covey had planned to go into the family business, but as he told a convocation of students at Montana State University in 2008, his plans changed. The leader of a volunteer organization he'd been working with asked him to train other leaders.

At first he demurred as he felt it was outside his comfort zone.

"But he said to me, 'I see you have the ability to do this. I will help you. You don't have to be a great font of wisdom. You just bring people together to get them to share best practices, and to learn to collaborate, and to become creative with each other.'

"He helped me and I found my voice."

Covey's book begins by urging people to move from dependence to independence or self-mastery.
The habits: be proactive, take initiative and accept the consequences; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and sharpen the saw, or a focus on self-rejuvenation.

"His impact has been enormous and has spanned not just the business world but how to live your life," says Jennifer Chatman, a management expert at the University of California, Berkeley. "His brilliance was in boiling down some life practices that lead to action in a way that people could get their arms around and digest."

None of it, Chatman says, was complex or very sophisticated. Many Fortune 100 companies embraced his methods; Covey became a management consultant to a lot of them. Some still rely on Covey's seven basic principles.

Covey's ideas have also been embraced by more than 800 schools worldwide. The first was A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C. Following the Columbine shootings, the school was looking for a way to improve its environment and performance.

"Our children are making better decisions [and] we're seeing a huge decline in discipline [problems]," says Muriel Summers, the school's principal.

Summers says the school also saw an increase in test scores and more engaged families, since it also taught Covey's 7 Habits to the students' parents.

"It's pretty amazing what is happening," she says.

Her words would most likely be music to Covey's ears. He loved inspiring and working with young children and had more than 50 grandchildren of his own. His publicist said Monday that she thinks Covey would most want to be remembered for being a good family man.

Can Science Plant Brain Seeds That Make You Vote?

Live volunteer calls increase voter turnout fare more than do robo calls.
Enlarge Adam Cole/NPR

In 2008, just a few days before the Democratic presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, a large group of Pennsylvania voters got a very unusual phone call.

It was one of those get-out-the-vote reminder calls that people get every election cycle, but in addition to the bland exhortations about the importance of the election, potential voters were asked a series of carefully constructed questions:

"What do you think you'll be doing before you head to the polls on Tuesday?" recipients of the call were asked. "Where do you think you'll be coming from that day?"

These questions were designed by a Harvard professor named Todd Rogers. Rogers, among other things, is a behavioral psychologist, and he says he chose those questions for a very particular reason.
"We borrowed that from cognitive psychology," he says, "There's a lot of research showing that thinking through the actual moment when you will do something makes it more likely that the behavior will pop into your mind at the appropriate time."

Essentially, the questions plant a cognitive seed deep in your brain that sits there, mostly forgotten, until you arrive at the moment you talked about during the call. And then, says Rogers, "It pops into my head! 'Oh! I said I was going to vote now!' "

Or anyway, that was the theory of what would happen, the theory that Rogers wanted to test with the calls. And to make sure this theory worked in real life, Rogers did something that hasn't been done much in politics: a randomized controlled trial. He randomly divided the electorate in Pennsylvania into different groups: Thousands got the call with questions, thousands got a standard get-out-the-vote call without questions, and thousands got no call at all.

What he found was that the questions appeared to make a dramatic difference. People asked three simple planning questions were twice as likely to vote as people who were not.

" I was very pleasantly surprised by how effective it appeared to be," Rogers says.

Until recently, there have been very few randomized controlled trials like this in American politics. Politics has been a profession ruled by gut instinct, gurus and polls. But over the past 15 years, the primary method of scientific advance — the randomized controlled study — has been wheedling its way into politics, and bit by bit, it's challenging a lot of the conventional wisdom that dominates current political campaigns.

How To Get Out The Vote

Political scientists Donald Green and Alan Gerber wondered which campaign strategies would increase voter turnout — and perhaps more important, how much each of these strategies would cost.

Celeste Holm, Broadway Star, Oscar-winning actress, dies at 95

Celeste Holm
Actress Celeste Holm in 1997. (Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

Celeste Holm, a versatile, bright-eyed blonde who soared to Broadway fame in "Oklahoma!" and won an Oscar in "Gentleman's Agreement" but whose last years were filled with financial difficulty and estrangement from her sons, died Sunday, a relative said. She was 95.

Holm had been hospitalized about two weeks ago with dehydration after a fire in actor Robert De Niro's apartment in the same Manhattan building. She had asked her husband on Friday to bring her home, and she spent her final days with her husband, Frank Basile, and other relatives and close friends by her side, said Amy Phillips, a great-niece of Holm's who answered the phone at Holm's apartment on Sunday.

Holm died around 3:30 a.m. at her longtime apartment on Central Park West, Phillips said.
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Big Money and Secret Money in the 2012 Campaign

This is the most expensive presidential election year in many times over!

See Also:

Nov. Election: How Much Does Fundraising Matter?

Nonpartisan Agreement: Most Campaign Money Is Wasted

Senator Murray Urges Transparency in Campaign Financing


Buying your vote through lies, half truths and propaganda...


Big Money and Secret Money in the 2012 Campaign 
With billions of dollars flowing more freely than ever before into the nation's political process, has the US reached the point where money is all that matters when it comes to elections? The balance of power between big money, much of it anonymous, and the average voter is stretched more tightly than ever before thanks to recent court rulings that have chipped away at campaign finance reform and transparency.  
Want to know who's paying how much to which candidate? You may never find out. 
Also, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wraps up her world tour in Israel, and a grass-roots effort aimed at getting average people from the left and the right talking about politics, instead of arguing about it. Sara Terry guest hosts.
Banner image: Screen grab from Mitt Romney's presidential campaign site

Engage & Discuss

Further the conversation with your thoughts and comments. Agree, disagree, present a different perspective -- engage.

To listen to the story and read more click here.

SAG-AFTRA ACTOR: 'Ice Age' chills! Behind Comic-Con's velvet rope. ...

SAG-AFTRA ACTOR: 'Ice Age' chills! Behind Comic-Con's velvet rope. ...: ...

Diamondback - Kings Island 2009

90 Year Old Celebrates Birthday On A Roller Coaster

Thelma Gratsch spent her 90th birthday hurtling down a 230 feet high roller coaster at 80 miles an hour. She's had a season pass to Kings Island amusement park outside Cincinnati, Ohio, since 1979.

Nov. Election: How Much Does Fundraising Matter?

President Obama to be outspent

Obama contributions are small, many ten to one hundred dollars. Romney contributions are the one thousand dollar level, with PAC's raising millions from a single donor.
The cost of the entire presidential election could be between six and fifteen billion dollars (much of which will never have to be reported under post-supreme court financing regulations).

The Koch Brothers by themselves are spending more money to elect Romney by themselves than the entire John McCain campaign in the last presidential election, 2008. 

Steve Inskeep talks with two political strategists on whether a fundraising advantage matters in this presidential campaign. Mark McKinnon advised George W. Bush and John McCain's campaigns. Mark Mellman is a democratic pollster and adviser. 

This month Romney out-raised Obama in that is expected to be a billion dollar political campaign. When you add the PACS, overwhelmingly spending big donor money for Romney, the presidential race between Obama and Romney (not counting the primaries) could exceed four billion dollars. 

Even on at as low as 800 million, this is already the most expensive presidential race in history. In general most of the money is spent on a very small percentage of the voters, and is done so at the risk of turning some of your supporters against you. One, ten, twenty or a hundred people could make the difference in the election. Then too there is the world of advertising is to get far more news coverage and discussion on talking head talk shows. 

Never before have a few, led by the Koch Brothers, had so much power in a single presidential election year.

But will buying an election work?

Nonpartisan Agreement: Most Campaign Money Is Wasted

Republican and Democratic strategists tell NPR that most of the estimated $4 billion to be spent by the campaigns, political action committees and others on the 2012 presidential race will make no difference in the outcome.

"Eighty percent of what we do in a campaign is wasted," Democratic pollster and adviser Mark Mellman tells NPR's Morning Edition. "The problem is we don't know which 80 percent in advance, so we do it all. That's exactly what these campaigns are doing."

Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist who advised George W. Bush and John McCain, agreed: "No, you don't need that much money. It's ridiculous. This is so much more money than has ever been spent historically."
McKinnon tells NPR that the amount to be spent on the 2012 race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney will be "a minimum of $4 billion, when you add up all the PACs and special interest money that's going to be spent on this campaign."
"If you live in a swing state, you're seeing political ads wall to wall now like you used to back in September, October in presidential campaigns past," says McKinnon. "At a certain point, it just becomes completely white noise."
The difficult thing, Mellman says, is determining which ad buys matter, and which ones don't.
"Nobody can sit here today, in what would otherwise be a close race, and say that extra million, $5 million, $10 million, $50 million might not make the difference of a few hundred votes in Florida, a few hundred votes in Ohio or Nevada," says Mellman.
Both McKinnon and Mellman agree that the Romney campaign and all of the affiliated pro-Romney money could exceed the amount raised and spent by Obama and his supporters in the election. Historically, sitting presidents have a big fundraising advantage.
What they're not so sure about: whether it will matter.