November 1, 2019

SEE, THIS IS WHERE THE MEDIA BEING DEMOCRATIC PARTY OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES HURTS THEIR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: The “Bonfire of the Democratic Party’s Once-Rising Stars,” with forensic analysis by Jim Geraghty:

But the other lesson is that running for president is really hard, and a lot of these candidates have spent most of their careers in heavily Democratic areas and states where the political wind was always at their back. Gillibrand certainly wasn’t going to sweat Senate races in New York. Booker’s Newark and statewide races never had that much tension. Despite the redness of Texas overall, San Antonio and El Paso were dots of blue, meaning O’Rourke and Castro never faced tough general elections. (Credit O’Rourke for coming close against Cruz, but in the end all of that glowing coverage wasn’t because the media expected him to just “come close.”)

In a way, getting good press is just not that difficult for a young-ish Democratic lawmaker with decent public speaking skills. Just invite a big newspaper or magazine reporter to hang around for a few days, let them marvel as you charm little old ladies and speak some eighth-grade Spanish to a local Latino organization, offer some trite observations that “technology changes everything” and “government can do so much more if we only have the will,” and then roll up your sleeves and pose for your looking-off-in-the-distance photo shoot. Presto! Instant presidential “buzz.”

In contrast, when it comes to conservatives and Republicans, as Moe Lane wrote in 2011 before abandoning political blogging, “The Media hates you, and wants you to die in a fire.” That’s the first of his “Ten Media Truths for Conservative/Republican Legislators,” which remain valid to this day. As does this 2014 CNN article headlined: “Inside the GOP’s secret school,” on the Obama-era GOP’s disciplined approach to dealing with the media. Although at least one quote sounds remarkably dated post-2016:

Spicer and Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, embarked on an overhaul of the organization’s media operations, hiring web-fluent staffers, streamlining their surrogate database and stepping up their media-training operations to instill discipline over candidates. The latter move, Priebus said, became essential after witnessing Republican candidates up and down the ballot in 2012 ruin news cycles with offensive or tone-deaf comments on issues like abortion or rape.

“I’d rather have candidates being careful to a fault than, you know, having a fountain of blabber coming out of their mouth that’s not disciplined,” Priebus says. “We are training candidates, training state parties, training operatives to appreciate that communicating isn’t just a free-for-all, natural-born type of activity. People need to be trained and disciplined.”

If you’re not Donald Trump, that’s still excellent advice for a Republican politician dealing with a media that, unlike when reporting on youngish Democratic lawmakers with decent public speaking skills, hates you, and wants you to die in a fire.

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