By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Oct 25, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Watch Tim Cuprisin's On Media on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411, with new episodes posted Fridays.

When you watch as much TV as I do -- the television is on throughout most of my work day -- you're bombarded by political advertising.

The vast majority is negative, annoying and unenlightening. It seems more designed to enrage voters who have already made a decision to get out and vote against the bad guy, rather than convince the undecided that a specific candidate is the right choice.

While they're part of the noise that comes with all free speech, political advertising has become an embarrassing aspect of our electoral system.

To me, only one commercial has risen above the seasonal noise: Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett's spot that talks about how he was beaten by a street thug last year near the Wisconsin State Fair as he tried to help a woman under attack.

Let me start by saying that the Democratic candidate for governor's portfolio of TV commercials contains the attacks and negativity of all the other campaigns. This spot isn't symptomatic of a kinder gentler campaign. It's virtually alone in a depressing field.

That's what makes it stand out.

And by pointing out this ad, I'm not suggesting that it means Barrett deserves your vote. That's your decision, and I can't imagine making it on a single political ad.

Here's the Barrett spot I'm talking about:


The first thing that stands out about the spot -- titled "Stand Up" -- is that it's long, 60 seconds long. In TV ad terms that's increasingly rare.

That time allows the telling of a story, using reports of the attack to set things up. And unlike many political ads, this story is about the candidate himself -- not about his opponent and how dastardly he is.

I would argue that it does tell an important story. How a person reacts to such an incident can tell us something important about them. The ad didn't blow that, or anything, out of proportion.

I understand that the spot has had heavy rotation in Wisconsin TV markets outside Milwaukee, where it's a good introduction of Barrett to voters who haven't followed his career and are less likely to have made a decision about him.

Don't expect "Stand Up" to be the model for less antagonistic political ads in Wisconsin. It's the product of a unique situation.

But in a field of unpleasant attack ads, it's worth noting.

On TV: CBS says it’s sticking with all its new shows: "Hawaii Five-0," "Blue Bloods," "Mike & Molly," "S#*! My Dad Says" and "The Defenders" -- for the entire season.

  • Meanwhile the CW has picked up "Hellcats," "Nikita," and standby "One Tree Hill" for the full season. There’s no word yet on the fate of ratings-troubled "Life Unexpected."
  • NBC is bringing back its holiday "reality" competition, "The Sing-Off" for a second season, starting Dec. 6. Nick Lachey will host, and 10 groups will compete for $100,000 and a recording contract.
  • Oprah Winfrey has lined up George W. Bush for her Nov. 9 show. That’s the day the former president’s new book comes out.
  • Channel 12 adds weekend sports anchor/reporter Dario Melendez starting Nov. 8. He comes from WINK-TV in Ft. Myers, Fla., and co-hosts two Fox Sports Radio  talk shows: "College Tailgate" and "Red Zone."

The Packers score on the field, and on TV: Preliminary numbers from Nielsen Media Research show that Channel 4's airing of the Packers win over Brett Favre's Vikings was a huge draw on Sunday.

The game averaged 478,000 southeast Wisconsin households. That's 53 percent of all southeast Wisconsin TV homes, and an amazing 77% shares of homes watching television at the time.

Viewers stuck with the game to the very end, with nearly 514,000 area homes tuned in between 10:15 and 10:30. That delivered a huge audience to Channel 4's late newscast.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.