Crime in Televised Presidential Campaign Ads: The Making of Visual Metaphor

Lisa A. Kort-Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In televised campaign advertisements, political rhetoric potently combines with visual metaphors. Drawing on a digital library of presidential campaign ads from 1952 to 2016, the qualitative media analysis scrutinized how crime rhetoric became visual metaphor. Crime images were positioned and manipulated alongside other content to craft a story about crime and the candidates. Across all ads, two tactics emerged: depicting crime as a problem akin to other social ills–a dark stain; and posing crime as the sinister side to an otherwise vibrant society–a lurking shadow. Candidates were branded as janitors and sheriffs who could rally against these foes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-648
Number of pages21
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 3 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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