Sunday, September 28, 2008

Don't Mess with the Media

I’ve read a lot about Sarah Palin. I find her interesting. I don’t hate her with the force of a thousand suns like a lot of my friends do, but I do believe she is completely over her head and is in no way ready for the national stage, and I think she’d be disastrous if given the opportunity to exercise her values legislatively.

Her beliefs are polarizing, to say the least. She has a way of creating enemies, and governs in a very personal manner. I think part of her charm is that she is cute and pretty, and leads what many consider to be an incredible life. I think many women wish they could pull off something like that; they ignore the warning signs, they ignore the pregnancy, her spurious background. She’s approachable, and that feeling wins out.

Luckily, her utter unpreparedness for a national campaign is finally becoming clear, and it’s become increasingly apparent that John McCain has made a terrible mistake by selecting her as his running mate, exacerbating the decision by following it up with the genius idea of shielding her from the press.

The media likes access; the media likes answers. They do not like rebuffs, refusals, or rejections. The media’s job is to get stories out to the public, and when people make their jobs difficult, they are not happy. The media can be your friend, and they are big on relationships—they can make or break you, so treat them well. Sarah Palin was a public figure before she became a vice-presidential candidate; she’s had experience interacting with the media, just on a smaller scale. For god’s sake, her degree is in journalism!

There’s a difference between demurring for privacy’s sake and outright refusing to answer questions because you have no answers. The only reason not to let the press talk to her was because they were hiding something—which is so completely obvious that it’s totally backfiring on the campaign.

But I just want to point out an interesting example of how media partnerships work, why it’s so important to cultivate positive relationships with them. From Vanity Fair, via Andrew Sullivan:

Obama, on the other hand, was snubbing Murdoch. Every time he reached out (Murdoch executives tried to get the Kennedys to help smooth the way to an introduction), nothing. The Fox stain was on Murdoch.

It wasn’t until early in the summer that Obama relented and a secret courtesy meeting was arranged. The meeting began with Murdoch sitting down, knee to knee with Obama, at the Waldorf-Astoria. The younger man was deferential—and interested in his story. Obama pursued: What was Murdoch’s relationship with his father? How had he gotten from Adelaide to the top of the world?

Murdoch, for his part, had a simple thought to share with Obama. He had known possibly as many heads of state as anyone living today—had met every American president from Harry Truman on—and this is what he understood: nobody got much time to make an impression. Leadership was about what you did in the first six months.

Then, after he said his piece, Murdoch switched places and let his special guest, Roger Ailes, sit knee to knee with Obama.

Obama lit into Ailes. He said that he didn’t want to waste his time talking to Ailes if Fox was just going to continue to abuse him and his wife, that Fox had relentlessly portrayed him as suspicious, foreign, fearsome—just short of a terrorist.

Ailes, unruffled, said it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand.

A tentative truce, which may or may not have vast historical significance, was at that moment agreed upon.

3 comments:

petpluto said...

"les, unruffled, said it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand."

Really? I have to say, I agree with the overall point about the media liking answers, but Fox News is one crumbling step above the Enquirer on most days in my book. No matter what Obama did, there was no reason for the "Baby Mama" stories about Michelle Obama, the racist slants of their stories, and the fact that they did indeed stop just short of calling him a terrorist. If someone had done that to me and my family, after seeing how they treated members of my political party for years, I would have decked the man who told me that it was on me. Which may partially explain why I will never have a future in politics.

Oh, and I don't hate Sarah Palin. I just (a) don't understand her appeal and (b) think that the apocalypse would come all the sooner if she were in the White House -and that since she belongs to a church that believes we are in the End Days, the world ending wouldn't bother her nearly as much as it would bother me.

John said...

"Hey, Rog! Why did you print that story in the school newspaper about me cheering for the visiting team at this year's homecoming game? And that editorial about how my girlfriend is a ghetto ho-bag? Why would you print any of those things and try to pass them off as true?"

"Well, B.O., you never let me sit at the lunch table with you and your friends, so I'll keep doing this until you let me."

It's true what they say: No matter how far you may go in life, you never leave high school.

Ms. Informed said...

Ha, thanks for the link!

~Ms. Informed

(And if you're wondering why I hate Katie, it's because she wouldn't take a picture with me when I interned at CBS News...talk about bitch.)