mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Live By The Media’s Favor, Die By The Media’s Disfavor”: After Pumping Him Up For Months, The Press Turns On Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is in serious trouble, so he’s now attacking Donald Trump, something he hasn’t been as eager to do before. While it may produce a return slap from the Republican front-runner, it probably won’t be enough to shift the discussion around Rubio, who is now learning a very hard lesson: Live by the media’s favor, die by the media’s disfavor.

Rubio’s rapidly shifting fortunes demonstrate how capricious those ups and downs in coverage can be. As much as we might like to believe that we’re nothing more than observers, chronicling the events that take place in as fair a way as we can, the media inevitably shape events too. As Walter Lippman wrote in 1922, news coverage “is like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision.” For a long time, the light shining on Rubio illuminated the things that people thought made him a formidable general election candidate. But when the light’s focus shifted, things got very bad very fast.

A lot of Republicans fail to understand media dynamics because they’ve bought in so fully to their own propaganda about how the liberal media are biased against conservatives. Here’s how Sen. Orrin Hatch explains Rubio’s fall:

“Democrats can run a younger person like John F. Kennedy because the media is with them. Republicans will have a more difficult time because if somebody’s young, they’re going to get beaten up like never before by this biased media.”

Putting aside the utility of Kennedy’s experience running for president 56 years ago in explaining what’s going on today, the notion that the media were biased against Marco Rubio is ludicrous. In truth, no other Republican candidate got more glowing coverage for months than Rubio did; as I and others have pointed out, there have periodically been waves of stories about how Rubio was about to have his moment and rocket to the front of the race, since those in the know understood just what a formidable general election candidate he would make.

The trouble was that Republican voters never seemed to clue in to what the insiders were telling them. And even though after the Iowa caucuses media outlets everywhere declared Rubio the real winner despite his third-place finish, the Rubio explosion never happened. So when last Saturday’s debate came, the stage was set for a new story about Rubio. Chris Christie mercilessly attacked him for repeating a line about how “Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” was the hook for the new narrative.

Why was Rubio’s performance in that debate such a big deal? It wasn’t because there’s something objectively horrifying about a candidate repeating a talking point a bunch of times, even after getting called out on it by an opponent. The real problem was the substance of what he was saying: that Barack Obama is intentionally trying to destroy America, a rancid idea that is no less vile for being common on the right. The repetition got so much attention in part because reporters approach debates by looking for some supposedly revealing moment or exchange that can be replayed over and over again. All the better if it involves confrontation (as this one did, between Rubio and Christie) and all the better if if makes somebody look foolish (as this one also did).

It also created a new story to write about — Is Rubio too robotic? — that reporters may have been primed for by watching Rubio’s message discipline on the campaign trail. That’s critical to understand, too: among the media’s most important biases is a bias toward the new. A new event, a new story, a new narrative will always be more interesting than another iteration of a story you’ve written ten times before. After writing “Rubio Poised to Break Out” for months, the media was ready for the dramatic shift to “Rubio Crashes and Burns.”

And then, just two days after the debate, Rubio had a brain fart during a town hall meeting, repeating twice the same line about pop culture getting rammed down our kids’ throats — saying it, then immediately saying it in almost exactly the same words again. That was too good for the press corps to pass up, since it reinforced the emerging storyline. (This narrative has also been pushed forward by his opponents.) Then when Rubio came in fifth in New Hampshire, the cascade of negative stories continued, leaving him where he is today.

Though he has taken responsibility for his own poor performance in the debate, if he’s like most candidates (both Democrat and Republican), Rubio probably thinks he’s not being treated fairly by the media. But nobody gets to have it both ways. You can’t say that it’s entirely appropriate to characterize a third-place finish in Iowa as a grand victory, then say it’s unfair to characterize a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire as a crushing defeat. You can’t say that everyone should pay attention to all the things that on paper make you a strong candidate, but object when too much attention is paid to your real-life flaws. And you can’t bask in your positive coverage, then object when you screw up and that winds up on the front page, too.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, February 11, 2016

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Primary Debates, Marco Rubio, Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Business Of TV Media And Politics”: GOP And The Media…”Each Holding The Other Up, While Bringing The Other Down”

After the last GOP presidential debate, the Fox Business Network is determined to gloat about how much more accommodating they were to the candidates than CNBC. But there is a much deeper story about the relationship between television media and political campaigns than that kind of one-up-manship reveals. Michael Wolff captured that pretty well with a story titled: GOP Candidates are Hollywood’s Unlikely New Divas.

At some point, politics crossed over from being a civic obligation of television news to television news’ central business. The dutiful and high-minded became incredibly profitable, complicating the responsibilities and attitudes of journalists (and their managers), most recently in NBC’s exclusion from the Republican debate cycle over complaints about CNBC’s “gotcha”-style questioning.

News was once the loss leader of TV, and politics was the loss leader of news, the slog you waded through before crime, disaster, human interest, weather and sports. Two things changed that status.

The first thing Wolff points to that changed things is the flood of television advertising money from political campaigns – which is estimated to be as much as $5 billion in 2016 – “making politics the single biggest local television advertising category.” If not for revenue from political campaigns (and major sporting events), the entire television industry might be collapsing in this age of new media.

The second factor that Wolff identified captures where the Fox Business Network failed to produce.

While news organizations see themselves as information seekers and reasonable moderators, their additional, and financially advantageous, role is to be disruptors. That media-led upheaval arguably has helped (or given hope to) every candidate save for Jeb Bush. But it also is a con­venient bete noire by which nearly every candidate can gain an additional edge. It’s the double advantage of disruption: to benefit from it, and benefit from criticizing it — causing a further disruption…

It is almost impossible not to see everybody as a pawn in a larger game — or in someone else’s game. For TV news, this campaign is an unimaginable gift, one that, if conflict is maintained, will keep giving. For GOP candidates, the more volatile the season, the more everyone, save for the person at the top, benefits. For politicians, a no-argument issue that resonates with everybody, and that also produces more media attention, is to blame the media for, well, anything and everything.

For weeks after the CNBC debate, both the GOP candidates and media outlets were able to exploit the “disruption” caused by the complaints that were generated. Right now, everyone is busy patting each other on the back over how well they did…boring!

If Republican voters wanted an adult conversation about the issues, Donald Trump’s candidacy would have been toast a long time ago. And, of course, it was his inflammatory statements that fueled the biggest audience for presidential debates we’ve ever seen. Similarly, the recent reports about Ben Carson’s lack of truthfulness have produced eye-catching stories for the media. While Carson embraces the role of victim in all that, he also brags about how the conflict has sharply increased donations to his campaign. Disruption is what sells – for both the media and the candidates.

That’s why Wolff ends his article by saying that this campaign may be the first to highlight the co-dependence between these GOP candidates and the media…”each holding the other up, while bringing the other down.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Fox Business, GOP Primary Debates, Political Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Comprehensive Immigration Reform”: Rubio’s ‘Biggest Weakness’ Goes Unmentioned, For Now

As the race for the Republicans’ presidential nomination started to take shape, there were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) chances. For example, he’s a career politician who’s never run anything. He has no real accomplishments. He’s developed no areas of policy expertise. Rubio gives a nice speech, but there’s ample reason to question whether he’s prepared for national office.

It’s quite easy to imagine, however, Republican voters overlooking all of this. Indeed, these truths may be a problem for a general-election audience, but there’s no reason to believe any of them would be a deal-breaker in GOP primaries and caucuses.

All of which brings us to the one problem Rubio may not be able to dismiss with ease: comprehensive immigration reform.

If I were a Republican presidential candidate, and I were at all worried about Rubio, I’d probably repeat one talking point every minute of every day: “Marco Rubio partnered with liberal Democrats to write Obama’s ‘amnesty’ bill.” For the GOP base, the bipartisan immigration reform package is truly despised – it’s right up there with “Obamacare” – and yet one of the party’s leading presidential candidates is one of the bill’s authors.

I don’t understand why this simple, straightforward detail isn’t dominating the Republican race. I don’t mean that in a rhetorical sense; I mean I literally don’t understand it. Shouldn’t candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump be screaming this from the hilltops?

Vox’s Matt Yglesias took a look at this dynamic today, arguing that the “chickens will (probably) come home to roost.”

One reason Rubio has looked so good thus far, in other words, is that his biggest and most obvious weakness hasn’t been on the table. That’s a lucky break, but it’s hard to see how it will last.

If by the next debate Rubio has succeeded in clearly displacing Jeb Bush as the establishment favorite, then the incentives for Cruz and Trump (or even Christie or Fiorina) to start lighting into Rubio on immigration get a lot bigger. But as Cruz himself outlined to Shane Goldmacher, his current plan is to focus on consolidating the vote that he is currently splitting with Trump and Ben Carson and only later turn on whomever the strongest establishment-friendly candidate will be.

At this point, the limited areas of disagreement between the competitive candidates will be extremely important. Candidates like Rubio and Cruz agree on practically everything, making it all the more important that the former aligned himself with Democrats on immigration while the latter fought to kill the bill.

Yglesias added, “It hasn’t hurt him thus far because it simply hasn’t been tried. But it’s nearly inconceivable that Rubio can keep coasting much longer without facing his core vulnerability.”

It’s worth emphasizing that Rubio has no doubt memorized the script on what to say when this comes up. The Florida Republican will assure his party’s base that he now opposes the bill he helped write in the last Congress, and he’s already gladly betrayed his former allies on what was supposed to be his signature issue. Never mind what he supported in 2014; he wants the focus on his brand new position rolled out in 2015.

Whether such an argument will be persuasive remains to be seen, but if the race for the nomination comes down to Cruz vs. Rubio – a scenario I consider fairly likely – the only major area of disagreement between them will be immigration, and the Texan will have a potent message to share.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 2, 2015

November 4, 2015 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , | 2 Comments

“Clouded Political Judgment”: What Happened To Jeb Bush? Too Much Money

Jeb Bush has dropped into single digits in the polls — and that’s just among Republicans in his home state of Florida. What happened to the man with all the money, top name recognition and, according to last year’s political sages, a clear shot at his party’s presidential nomination?

The problem is all the money and how it may have clouded Bush’s political judgment. He seems to have assumed that the cash pile freed him from the chore of dealing with the party’s difficult grass-roots voters.

As part of this faulty thinking, he’s been awfully blatant about advertising his availability as the go-to man for business interests seeking favors from government. Such interactions often take on the air of corporate welfare, despised by many in the Republican base and lots of others.

His moderate position on immigration, no doubt heartfelt but also aimed at the general election voters, only further aggravated the hard right. It was another message to the generally older and white grass roots that he considered the nomination already in the bag.

But the biggest irony of how Bush swings the money bat is that he may have turned off some big-money donors, as well. Case in point is the apparent defection of Texas energy magnate T. Boone Pickens as a loyal benefactor, having penned him a check for $100,000 early on.

The back story: Pickens’ wind power company, Mesa Power, bid on huge energy contracts being granted by the province of Ontario. Pickens lost to NextEra, an energy giant domiciled in Florida. Pickens is now in international court charging Ontario with having fixed the process in NextEra’s favor. The court is expected to rule on the case shortly.

What does this have to do with Jeb Bush? NextEra, owner of Florida Light & Power, has been another bankroller of Bush campaigns. As Florida governor in 2009, Bush infamously called for an increase in the company’s electricity rates. To win support for the unpopular position, he held up the scary prospect of rolling blackouts and economic collapse if the state didn’t go along. A longtime NextEra executive subsequently became a limited partner in one of Bush’s private equity firms.

Pickens has begun to publicly throw support toward Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. Perhaps he resents the Bush family’s divided affections. He recently chided brother George W. for calling Ted Cruz selfish.

“Hell, they’re all in it for themselves,” Pickens said. That’s the voice of one irritated man and also one who no longer sees a downside in alienating a Bush.

Here we have it, the political risk facing a politician with vast dynastic connections and so much campaign cash that he’s declared the prohibitive front-runner. It opens the temptation to give corporate donors the impression that they need him more than he needs them. (Cough up, or I won’t answer your call once I’m president.)

What about Donald Trump, who against logic continues to lead the Republican polls? Trump has a lot more money than Bush has. But Trump does the little people the honor of aiming his populist messages — both wise and ridiculous — directly to them. The big corporate donors are not on his team, his team comprising mainly himself. He doesn’t owe them. That’s the message.

Trump is probably as surprised as anyone that he’s gotten as far as he has — and the thought of actually being elected president may horrify him. His candidacy seemed intended mainly to build his brand.

In any case, the showman knows to go for the people’s love, whereas Bush seeks their allegiance. Love is something a candidate works for. Allegiance is extracted. Which would most of us prefer?

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Campaign Donors, Jeb Bush | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jindal To GOP; I’ll Be Your Donald Trump!”: Racist Demagoguery Is Too Important A Task To Be Left To An ‘Egomaniacal Madman’

Well, this is going to be interesting. Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been silent most of the day, and so we haven’t seen any response to Bobby Jindal’s supreme act of provocation at the National Press Club. He is going to be on Greta van Susteran’s show tonight, so maybe he’s saving up some heat-seeking missiles to send Bobby’s way. Will he make exorcism jokes? Mention how reluctant Bobby is to spend time in the state he is supposedly governing, or how unpopular he is there? Mock Jindal’s campaign for resorting to attacks on Trump to get some attention? No telling.

But blowback aside, Jindal’s speech is pretty amazing. It very, very carefully distinguishes between Trump and Trumpism, holding up the latter even as it tears down the former:

I like the idea of a DC outsider.

I like that he doesn’t care about political correctness.

I like the fact that he says things people are thinking but are afraid to say.

I like that he uses Ronald Reagan’s theme of making America Great Again.

Trump’s diagnoses is correct — the professional political class in Washington, including the Republicans, is incompetent and full of nonsense. He is right. The political class in Washington has abandoned us. Trump has performed an important service by taking on the political class and exposing them for being completely full of nonsense.

But Trump doesn’t really believe this stuff, because he only believes in himself.

The message here seems to be that racist demagoguery is too important a task to be left to a “egomaniacal madman” like the guy who’s shown how popular racist demagoguery can be among the GOP rank-and-file.

So Bobby’s offering himself as the vehicle for Trumpism without Trump, or as he puts it, a “politically incorrect conservative revolution.”

I’m not sure what that would look like in practice, but in Bobby’s version it seems to begin with treating Trump the way Trump treats Mexicans: denouncing him in terms that burn any conceivable bridges to smithereens. Indeed, if I were advising Bobby, I’d be a bit worried that he won’t be able to sign the very “loyalty pledge” Trump has signed, which commits the candidate to support of the GOP nominee, even if it’s Trump.

I mean, seriously, listen to this:

Many say he’s dangerous because you wouldn’t want a hot head with his fingers on the nuclear codes. And while that’s true, that’s not the real danger here.

The real danger is that, ironically, Donald Trump could destroy America’s chance to be Great Again.

As conservatives, we have a golden opportunity in front of us. The Democrats have terribly screwed things up, and are basically giving us the next election.

If we blow this opportunity – we may never get it again, the stakes are incredibly high.

It’s true Trump might launch a nuclear war, says Bobby, but “that’s not the real danger here.” Hillary could win the election!

I really didn’t think my opinion of Bobby Jindal could get any lower, or my very low opinion of Donald Trump could get any higher. This continues to be a season of political wonders.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 9, 2015

 

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: