Every election cycle we hear about how nasty the discourse of our politics has become. We also tend to hear that low-brow, negative attacks have reached all-new lows in an ever-descending discourse.
This video from Reason.tv shows that such talk is historically ill-informed. It shows that our current negativity is trumped by the election of 1800. The Federalist vs. the Democratic-Republicans, John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson, was intensely personal and bitter. I would also add that politics throughout the preceding 1790s were exceedingly vicious. Further, the media was formed by bitterly partisan rival newspapers who openly fought for different positions/political parties.