By law, broadcasters are required to keep detailed information on these ads, including when they aired, how much they cost, and who bought them. This treasure trove of data, however, is kept in cumbersome paper files that are only accessible by physically visiting local stations. The FCC has since voted to require broadcasters to upload these documents online, but media companies have been lobbying against this transparency measure. Earlier this week, Elliott reported on Republican efforts to block funding for the FCC to implement this measure and further delay the transition to an online database.
As Maddow highlights in the segment, "the investigative journalism all-stars over at ProPublica have decided that watching and waiting for this to wend its way through the system is kinda boring." Instead, we had readers from across the country help us "free the files" at their local stations and post the data online, and we hope you'll continue to follow our reporting on this important election season issue.