Monday, December 1, 2008

On media and bias

Ed Driscoll linked me last week in a long post about media bias, keying off a Washington Times column by Rep. Lamar Smith:
President-elect Obama won by about 7 percent. That means if the media's one-sided coverage changed the minds of just 4 voters out of 100, the media - because of their bias - determined the election's outcome!
Read the whole thing. Ed's suggestion:
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.
What bothers me is how Ed -- and I think most Republicans -- take hostile media as a given. This is defeatism, and I don't like it. Go back to Rep. Smith's math: If media bias influenced 4% of voters, that made all the difference.

To my mind, what this says is that if Republicans could get slightly more favorable press coverage -- say, reducing the media's pro-Democrat bias from 70/30 to 60/40 -- this improvement could make the difference between defeat and victory. Ergo, an effective public-relations program doesn't have to be 100% successful in order to make a decisive difference.

I have often noted that GOP political operatives all think they know everything about media, even though none of them have ever worked in the news business. This is why you saw Steve Schmidt and the other McCain campaign operatives essentially repeat the errors of Dick Wadhams and the '06 Allen Senate campaign in Virginia.

Conservatives needs to understand how much of media bias is the fault of Republicans. If you entrust your media operation to clueless assholes -- hello, Tucker Bounds! -- you can't expect good coverage.

Unless and until Republican campaign officials admit that they don't know what they're doing, until they stop whining about bias and start asking some questions about why they suffer from such a horrific relationship with reporters, they're never even going to start to fix the problem.

During the 2008 election cycle, the Republican Party raised $720 million. You'd think for that kind of money, those idiots could have bought a fucking clue about what's wrong with their media strategy.


  1. No argument from me about the McCain campaign being completely incompetent.

    However, the only thing that will help the U.S. is if the MSM is completely smacked down. The GOP can feel free to play incrementalism games, but for the good of the country the MSM has to be taught a lesson that lying isn't good for their careers.

    And, that's not that difficult if people would do things the right way. Read between the lines of this (especially the "page after page" bit), and see this. Regular citizens could show just how bad the MSM is if they'd go out and ask politicians the questions the MSM is too corrupt to ask.

  2. What I love to point out to people is that Ronald Reagan won two LANDSLIDE elections with just as hostile a media against him. And, there was no internet, the blogs and conservative talk radio. What we conservatives have to do is go right at those in the Dinosaur, Drive-By, Mainstream, Obama-Worshiping Media the way that Mr. Reagan did. He was disarming and able to communicate his message and the bozos never realized how much Mr. Reagan used them to get his messaage out to the public at large. If the Republicans have to spend so much time getting the base behind candidate A, then there are problems. The base should be a fired-up as the Democrat base was this election. I agree, R.S., until the Republicans get better people and better communicators willing to take on the DDBMSOWM, they will continue to be dismissed.

  3. I have an even better example:

    Richard Nixon, in 1972, won approximately 60.7 percent of the vote. Now that was a freaking landslide. Biggest rollover since Roosevelt handed Alf Landon his hat.

    And Nixon did this with the most vicious, hateful media in modern history before the rise of George Bush.

    But he did this in an atmosphere in which the media was controlled by the NYT and the WaPo and the three networks.

    Still, when the media gets partisan, people have to turn it off. The notion that Republicans can buy off the media is a fool's errand. The media have a political investment in the political success of the Democratic Party. Republicans have to work around that.

  4. Mr. McCain:

    I confess, I have never read any of your writings before this morning (mainly because I see the name McCain, and go all "Meh"), and I've been reading my way backward through your archives. I'm sorry I didn't discover you earlier.

    My question to you is this: Do you think the conservative or Republican bench of journalists is deep enough that they would be able to adequately staff their media relations departments? If Democrats outnumber Republicans 20-1 in the newsrooms across Amercica, and those rew Republicans are probably lower on the totem pole than their Democrat peers, then where are the Republican campaigns going to find the people they need?

  5. There are two fallacies in the RNC's insinuation here. First, is that "it all came down to the media coverage". Secondly, and related that "the media was the final arbiter as to who became President".

    First, they are not going to get voter points by sucking up to the media. They need to suck up to me, the voter, the taxpayer!

    Until the GOP understands that voters elect, and reporter smear, I mean report, they have no chance of regaining power. Quite frankly, they probably don't deserver it either.