Those who’d like to see negative advertising out of politics are not going to be heartened by this.

The tactic is expanding, with two News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ) meteorologists exchanging “attacks” in dueling spots that are airing primarily on YouTube and the channel 6 Facebook page.

Keith Carson’s “ad” slams Todd Gutner for being from Connecticut, the “most hated state in New England,” where residents eat their lobster rolls – horrors – warm.

Screen grab

Gutner’s ad counters by noting that Carson has grown a beard and asking, over ominous music, besides his face, “what else is he hiding?”

The idea for the ads came from Carson, who was amused by the prevalence of attack ads airing in Maine during this fall’s elections. Initially, Carson said, higher-ups at the station said no to his idea.

“It didn’t immediately succeed,” he said. “The idea of it sounded weirder than it was.”

But Carson, who wrote both of the ads, made some mock-ups to show what he had in mind and he got a go-ahead.

Carson said he focused on making sure the pieces were balanced, with a relatively equal number of false or misleading allegations for each of the meteorologists.

“Trolling social media helps,” he said, finding that people ribbed him over his beard and tight suits, and he integrated those criticisms into the attack ad that focused on him.

“One of the things that people who don’t like me say is that I got fired from the Weather Channel,” Carson said, so that became a feature of the “attack” on him. In truth, Carson left the national weather channel when an opportunity came for him to return to his native New England.

Both Carson and Gutner said the reality is that they have a good relationship. Gutner handles the forecasting chores for the morning shows on the Portland station, and Carson on the evening broadcast.

That became a feature of the ads, with the anti-Carson piece saying that while Gutner likes to provide the bus stop forecasts in the morning, Carson’s dislike for the morning hours must mean he “hates” children and his young son “is nothing but a political stunt.”

Meanwhile, Carson’s attack on Gutner said that Gutner got a cat for his kids this year, while Carson would stand up to such “extremist demands.”

Still from Carson vs Gutner attack ad parody Screen grab

And, it said, Gutner’s rosy weekend forecasts must have something to do with some trinkets he got from the Boothbay Chamber of Commerce seven years ago, calling it “dark money.”

Carson said it wasn’t hard for him and an editor to put together the pieces because attack ads have several ubiquitous hallmarks, such as the spooky music, unflattering photos and ominous voice-over.

It was easy “to copy the style because they run non-stop,” he said.

And, he said, he hasn’t heard from anyone who has misread the pieces and believe that he and Gutner don’t get along.

“I’ve been surprised that no one has not gotten it,” he said.

Gutner said he’s gotten the same reaction.

“A lot of people say, “this is my favorite attack ad and do more,’ ” he said, praising Carson’s “sick and twisted and very creative mind.”

Gutner admits that, as a promotional piece, it’s a bit different from the usual “one big happy family” approach to presenting a station’s news team, but spoofing that genre is part of the fun of the pieces.


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