Katie Couric Continues to Trail among Likely Voters

October 1, 2008

There has been more and more talk, both laudatory and disapproving, of McCain ‘running against the media’. As I mentioned earlier, the media will not, in fact, be on the ballot in November. It is the Obama-Biden ticket that they have to defeat. And while the appearence of a feud with the media might be helpful, insofar as it makes McCain look good or Obama look bad, there is absolutely zero intrinsic value to scoring victories over the press corps. What the public thinks of the people feeding them news is irrelevant; it is only how the news affects their thoughts on the actual candidates that is of interest.

This should be painfully obvious – indeed, I feel silly for having written the preceding paragraph. But it apparently needs saying because it renders much of what the media-hating members of the media on the right are saying these days. Consider K-Lo (never fun, I realize, but take your medicine):

On Gwen Ifill, Palin said, “I’m not going to let it be a concern.” She said it will “make us work that much harder. She talked about her ticket being the “underdog,” presumably because of the media.

Don’t tell me folks won’t be motivated by this. They will. And the more the media criticizes, it feeds the campaign’s anti-media campaign. It may just be a winning strategy.

If you’ll forgive me for saying so, Kathryn, you are talking drivel again. The “anti-media campaign” very obviously does not become ever more effective as the volume and severity of media criticism increase. Rather, it works best when there are a small but noticeable numbre of clumsy attacks coming from fairly visible but not overly-respected journalists, along with a higher volume of defensive stories about how unfair the media is being by members of that same media who don’t want to be viewed as partisans. There is no shortage of voters who are capable of forming the opinion that the press is being unfair to candidate x based on the press telling them that the press is being unfair to candidate x.

If, on the other hand, everyone in the media were to repeatedly and viciously attack a candidate, there would be no upside there at all. Most voters can’t possibly know when charges against a politician are unfair unless someone in the MSM is reporting on that fact.

What I’ve laid out above are the two extreme states the media could be in in the context of a “campaign against the media”; obviously things will never look quite like either. The problem for McCain is that the current reality is much closer to the latter case than the former. Having the press this unhappy with you isn’t a strategy, it’s a liability.


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