Let me begin by saying I’m watching what is happening with Hurricane Florence carefully.
When Hurricane Matthew ravaged North Carolina in 2016, my family and I were unprepared. For me, it was October 2016, one month before the election, and my focus was elsewhere.
We sat without electricity for 3 days afterwards. We hadn’t been to the supermarket and the entire city was in the dark. Stores and restaurants were closed. We had to make due, as best we could.
I found out then that I’m not well suited to the rustic, off the grid life.
The memory of that awful experience has made me hyper-vigilant.
I watch the weather reports. If there’s news of a hurricane, I prepare. And here’s a tip: It is better to be prepared and not need it than it is to be unprepared and need it.
With the Weather Channel playing in the background, I’m writing this with the specter of Florence still looming. It seems like a good time to talk about how politicos take advantage of impending disaster.
The Washington-based NCC Media found 83 political advertisers are purchasing airtime on the channel, up from 59 last week.
When a hurricane or some other weather-related disaster strikes, The Weather Channel quickly becomes one of the most-watched stations in an increasingly diversified television marketplace.
I guess if you want to be seen…
Frankly, if not for Florence, I wouldn’t be watching the Weather Channel. You can only stare at weather patterns so long before the thrill is gone. Some love it, however (like, my mama).
Nielsen is reporting a bump in viewership of 10 percent between 2016 and 2017. That could be due to a particularly active hurricane season in 2017.
The station reached 70 million viewers last year and averaged more than a million viewers during the week Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Florida. When Hurricane Harvey slammed into southern Texas a few weeks earlier, 37 million viewers tuned in.
And the PACs came calling.
On the candidate side, Ohio Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine’s (R) campaign, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) campaign and Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont (D) are all running advertising on The Weather Channel.
Interesting, considering none of them will be affected by Florence.
The Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent more than $19 million on advertisements for Republican candidates, is the largest outside group buying Weather Channel time. Chris Pack, a spokesman for the group, said it was airing ads on the channel aimed at viewers in Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Nevada and West Virginia, all key races in the increasingly-tight battle for control of the Senate.
Also states that have no stake in the current weather crisis.
I’m not begrudging these campaigns or PACs the right to run ads in any venue that will take them. It’s politics, and it’s a smart move, if your job is to grab attention for your candidate or cause.
It’s just further proof that there’s no occurrence that can’t be harnessed for the sake of politics.
I’m going to be honest here, however. If this thing shakes out the way they’re predicting currently, I’m not going to be thinking of a single political ad or issue, while I’m standing in what they say will be anywhere from 18 to 24 inches of rain water.
Stay safe out there, folks.