The Next GOP Candidate Should Front-load Media Bias Complaints
In the Washington Times, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) writes that during the 2008 campaign, "the media crossed a threshold that should be greatly troubling to Americans":
Coverage of the election by many in the media ranged from slanted or biased to actually serving as strong and unabashed advocates for Sen. Barack Obama's campaign.Kevin D. Williamson of NRO's Media Blog responds with two thoughts:
1. It's a solid analysis of the media problems Republicans face.And when they're talking about it in late September, they're really toast, as Robert Stacy McCain wrote in his October 3rd pre-postmortem:
I didn't comment on it at the time, but I was shocked when Steve Schmidt lashed out at the New York Times on Sept. 22. Every word Schmidt said about the NYT being in the tank for Obama was true. But you don't do that. Ever. Not in a campaign you have any hope of winning. It is one thing to criticize specific errors by specific reporters, but for a presidential campaign manager to call into question the fundamental integrity of a newspaper that more or less dictates news coverage at the three major broadcast networks? Uh uh. No way. Leave that work to surrogates. Then Wednesday, in an interview with the Associated Press, McCain himself got all hostile with the reporter. That is tantamount to an admission of defeat.But one of McCain's many weaknesses as a GOP candidate is that he counted on the media's support--or at least was praising the media--and in particular, the New York Times as late as January of 2008 in the Republican debate in Florida. This left him absolutely unable to criticize the media in any form--which is why Schmidt's meltdown in late September sounded so much like whining, even though, as Robert McCain wrote back then, "Every word Schmidt said about the NYT being in the tank for Obama was true."
Hopefully the next GOP candidate will lay sufficient upfront groundwork so that his supporters (and not just the base) will know that the media attacks are coming--and that the GOP isn't competing merely against another party, they're also competing against the bulk of the legacy media, where most voters go to receive whatever scraps of information they'll get to justify their voting decisions.
It wouldn't hurt to remind people of the media's excesses and kneejerk support for Obama in this election, as many will have forgotten it. Laying this groundwork early in the campaign would also allow the candidate to have lots of "See, I told you so" moments when the drive-by media hits start flying. Whoever the next GOP candidate is, he might want to remind his supporters of this moment, as Stephen Spruiell describes in the December 1st "dead tree" edition of NR (subscription required):
McCain's health-care plan also became the subject of a deceptive ad campaign, funded by Obama's historically deep and mostly unscrutinized campaign coffers. The ads claimed that McCain's health-care tax credit would go "straight to the insurance companies, not to you, leaving you on your own to pay McCain's health-insurance tax." A few media sources took the trouble to point out that this was a flat-out lie, and that no one would pay more in taxes under McCain's health-care plan. But at this time most of the media were busy accusing McCain and Palin of fomenting racial hatred every time some bigot unaffiliated with the campaign yelled something offensive at an open event. So much for wanting to talk about "the issues."Which of course, the Times was doing all year, even if the stories weren't true.
When the top newspaper editor in the country is openly discussing his strategy to attack the Republican nominee through the news pages and almost no one cares, complaining about bias just isn't going to accomplish much.If the next Republican presidential candidate doesn't get that, he's dead politician walking.
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