Over the Independence Day weekend the Bob Family was visiting Grandma and Grandpa Bob for a few days. One piece of good timing that came of it was that I got to see on Fox News cuts of Megyn Kelly’s recent interview with Mitt Romney (The Bob household “Cut the cord” over a year ago). The entire interview was interesting, but it was the last part that most got my attention.
Unfortunately I can’t find a transcript of the interview, so I won’t have the wording down exactly (if anyone has a link please drop it in the comments). Kelly asked Romney about the infamous Candy Crowley moment in the 2012 debate where the moderator jumped in to rescue her candidate and proceeded to start debating Romney directly. Romney was too stunned to know how to reply, and from there the rest was history. When asked about it Romney’s response to Kelly went along the lines of, “She’s the moderator, and if I start beating her up I’ll just get heat for attacking the moderator!”
For some odd reason Republicans have this strange notion that most of the mainstream press are not anything more than the media team for the Democratic party. Just like Stephanapolous wasn’t an objective moderator during the GOP Primary debate, Crowley was not either. The moment she interjected was when she crossed the line of being a moderator and exposed herself as a partisan hack. Of course there will be pushback if you fight back – you’re battling in a damned election! But showing a willingness to punch back and not get pushed around will fire up the base. And maybe this can be a good way to start reaching out to people in the center who don’t even see how biased the press is. It didn’t hurt Rand Paul, as I recently wrote.
I’m not calling for candidates to just indiscriminately attack the press – if there’s a legitimate question regarding a scandal or a policy position it should be answered and the reporter should be treated with respect. But if the reporter is asking a leading question or framing it in a way that shows a bias toward your opponent you’d damned well better call them out on it. If you let them trap you you’re only helping them campaign against you. Ted Cruz did a great job of fighting back:
“Is there something about the left — and I am going to put the media in this category — that is obsessed with sex?” Cruz asked after fielding multiple questions on gay rights. “ISIS is executing homosexuals — you want to talk about gay rights? This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS, the expansion of radical, theocratic, Islamic zealots that crucify Christians, that behead children and that murder homosexuals — that ought to be concerning you far more than asking six questions all on the same topic.”
Cruz also said he did not think his opposition to gay marriage will hurt his chances with moderate voters.
“With respect, I would suggest not drawing your questions from MSNBC. They have very few viewers and they are a radical and extreme partisan outlet,” Cruz told a reporter. He cited the expansion of “mandatory same-sex marriage” as an assault on religious liberty in the United States.
At the end of the day challenging the press over unfair or biased questions is not just a good tactic – when the principles you are campaigning on are under direct attack, it is your obligation to defend them, regardless of the source.
I remember a few moments form the 2012 campaign that stood out as what could have been great moments for Republicans to seize the initiative. We remember that it helped Gingrich during his brief surge. How about if we had seen a few like these:
Remember Bob Schieffer’s testy scolding of Herman Cain over the ad that showed his campaign manager smoking, and how it went viral?
Schieffer: “Let me just tell you, it’s not funny to me,” Schieffer said, noting that he is a cancer survivor. “I don’t think it serves the country well, and this is an editorial opinion here, to be showing someone smoking a cigarette. You’re the frontrunner now, and it seems to me as frontrunner you would have a responsibility not to take that kind of a tone in this campaign. I would suggest that perhaps as the frontrunner you’d want to raise the level in the campaign.”
Cain: “We will do that, Bob, and I do respect your objection to the ad,” Cain said. “Probably about 30 percent of the feedback was very similar to yours. It was not intended to offend anyone. Being a cancer survivor myself, I am sensitive to that sort of thing.”
What Cain should have said: Look Bob, as a black man who happens to be conservative I don’t get the same kind of fawning puff pieces to promote my campaign the way someone like President Obama does. If a somewhat controversial video gets me some free publicity that my insurgent campaign needs than so be it. And the last time I checked, cocaine is a lot more harmful than tobacco, and I don’t recall you blasting a certain candidate who bragged to a bunch of young people about his cocaine use.
Or when Cain got asked about the sexual harassment allegation against him during the debate:
“You know the shareholders are reluctant to hire a CEO where there are character issues,” she said, then asked, “Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?”
Loud, low-pitched boos grew among the crowd, as Cain replied, “The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations. that’s what — I value my character and my integrity more than anything else and for every one person that comes forward with a false accusation, there are probably — are thousands who would say none of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain.”
What Cain should have said: “Yes. (Brief pause) You didn’t question character issues similar to the allegations against me the numerous times you interviewed President Clinton, so why must I face this double standard?
Or how about the “journalists” shouting harassing questions at Romney as he was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Poland?
Romney’s Response: Ignore the nimrods while his press secretary told the reporters to shove it.
Correct Response: Ignore the nimrods. Fire the press secretary for losing his cool when he knows he’s facing hostile forces. Have each of the offending reporters removed from the press pool and sent home. Offer their publications the opportunity to publicly apologize for their reporters’ actions unless they want to be permanently barred from the campaign’s press pool.
I could go on all day, but you get the idea. As Ace pointed out, the GOP is officially freaking out over Donald Trump’s poll standings.
The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.
The call from Chairman Reince Priebus, described by donors and consultants briefed on the conversation and confirmed by the RNC, underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.
Priebus’s decision to reach out to Trump came after days of talks with Republican donors and officials about how best to manage Trump’s outsize presence on the airwaves. Many financiers who are influential at the RNC have been fuming about Trump’s ascent and told Priebus that he must ensure that the RNC’s efforts over the past year to win more of the Hispanic vote is not harmed.
As I’ve argued before, Trump is a symptom of a problem the GOP is either unwilling or unable to deal with…there’s a significant part of the party’s base that feels it’s not being served by the party. Trump for all his ridiculousness and liberal history is at least giving some alienated voters the sense they are being heard and represented. An imperfect messenger is better than one that tells you, “shut up, I don’t care what you want.” So here’s a crazy idea for some of the back of the pack but respectable candidates…represent this group and take up their causes.
So guess what advice Howard Kurtz from Fox News has to offer Republicans? Be nice to the press, of course!
The press has become quite the piñata in the 2016 campaign, a fat target for candidates eager to score points against our unpopular business—or just to vent their frustrations.
Does it work? It certainly doesn’t hurt in a Republican primary. But at some point candidates have to figure out how to use the press to sell their message, rather than just complaining.
Because of course, all good Republicans should follow the RINO who the media is adoring though the primaries who will help advance the pro-amnesty agenda:
As for access, The Atlantic’s David Frum pivots off my piece about Hillary’s plans to contrast her media reticence with that of Jeb Bush. He says the former governor has done 39 interviews since February, ranging from Jimmy Fallon to the Daily Caller to Der Spiegel:
“Jeb Bush accepted invitations from journalists likely to pose tough questions, including Fox’s Megyn Kelly, talk radio’s Hugh Hewitt, and CBS’s Bob Schieffer…
“Jeb Bush seems determined to communicate: ‘I’m accessible, I’m approachable, I feel entitled to nothing.’”
Nobody is making an issue of Jeb’s media access, and he hasn’t complained about his treatment.
Just ask John McCain and Mitt Romney how well this approach worked. I’ve even seen unsubstantiated buzz that in the closing days of the 2008 presidential election McCain actually believed that his relationship with the press over the years would pay off. Two years ago Ted Cruz nailed it:
Cruz, “There are a lot of Democrats and folks in the media who like their Republicans timid and house-trained to just sit quietly in the corner, to accept losing, and to stand for nothing,” Cruz said on Sean Hannity’s radio show.
Two months later Cruz thrashed David Gregory on Meet the Press, prompting Breitbart’s Joel Pollack to offer a few tips for Republicans in terms of media training. I won’t elaborate on them here, but the link is worth your time to check:
1. Question the premise.
2. Stick to the message.
3. Cite your opponents’ supporters in your favor.
4. Never forget your constituency.
5. Believe that your opponent secretly agrees with you.
Rick Wilson at Ricochet summed up how the press (and too much of the GOP establishment) view most of the conservative base:
Many reporters and editors loathe how aware people have become of the journalistic process. They can barely conceal their anger at having the public (largely conservatives) challenge what, when, and how they cover the news.
And the feeling is quite mutual. Which brings us back to Hillary. I wrote a month ago about how she’s handling the press is absolutely brilliant. We just had the rather unpleasant incident where those courageous, speaking-truth-to-power journalists covering her campaign allowed her staffers to rope them off and shepherd them as if they were a flock of sheep, wohich of course, they are. And treating their adoring sycophants in the press in this manner is nothing new to the Clintons – jump into the Wayback Machine to 1992! But Hillary was kind enough to grant an interview this week with a friendly reporter over at CNN. Draw and Strike! provides the best analysis I’ve read:
The Point Of Hillary Breaking Her 87 Day Silence For That Interview On CNN Wasn’t To Make News – It Was So The Democrat Base Could Hear Her Say What It Wanted To Hear… What did Hillary’s base want to hear her say on the record? Two things:
1) “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
2) “This is all right wing attacks.”
This interview should have been given to Jake Tapper. But of course, as we all know, Hillary wouldn’t have agreed to be interviewed by Tapper since he has a well earned reputation of being tough but fair. That’s not what Hillary wanted out of this ‘interview’. She wanted a campaign infomercial and Keilar & CNN willingly handed it to her.
Of course, Hillary’s coronation is hardly a foregone conclusion. Over at The Daily Beast Stuart Stevens makes a good argument for how Bernie Sanders can win the primary. I doubt that at the end of the day that Hillary will lose the nomination. Say what you will about her, she understands that the press are a useful tool for Democrats and has been making an excellent use of that tool. The press can be useful for Republicans as well, but in a completely different manner. It’s one thing to disable your opponent’s artillery – it’s quite another to turn the cannons around and have your opponent scurry as their favorite weapon is used against them. The question is, will they actually decide to go on the offensive and use this weapon?
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite tweets regarding Hillary and her flock
The press should be relieved Hillary only roped them in. She normally eradicates her servers.
— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) July 6, 2015
And when it's all said & done, these pussies will still vote for her in 2016. pic.twitter.com/a6Q9k1lb42
— Cuffy (@CuffyMeh) July 5, 2015
— Jack Jolis (@JackJolis) July 5, 2015
Hillary's Press Detail pic.twitter.com/Fc1zpUqpu7
— jon gabriel (@exjon) July 4, 2015
But on a more serious note…
The problem isn't Hillary creating a rope line to keep press contained. It's the press' willing acquiescence to such demeaning subjugation.
— Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) July 4, 2015
Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog