Observing the media coverage of the primary war for the Democratic nomination, I can’t help but watch in amazement how the collective mainstream media press has apparently decided to dance around candidate Barack Obama, singing ‘Kumbaya’ loudly and farting in the general direction of the Clintons and John Edwards in the process. Amazement, because it won’t last.
Right now, any attack by the Clintons (or Edwards, or anybody else for that matter) is either completely ignored, or berated as something close to Pure Evil by the MSM. Whatever Bill Clinton says, it is now ‘racist’ or meant to ‘damage Obama’. Even when Clinton calls Obama’s candidacy so far “a fairy tale”, by which Clinton obviously means the non-critical, out-of-this-world aura the MSM has bestowed upon the Senator from Illinois, Clinton is attacked by hissing snakes. The Obama campaign doesn’t have to do squat.
Sure, now you’re thinking that I believe that Bill Clinton isn’t purposely throwing in the race-thing. Of course he is, but get this: that’s not my point. The point is that if/when Obama (or one of his surrogates) throws in some coded sentence that could be interpreted as racially tinged, but also could not, Obama is left alone.
But whenever Clinton says something that could be racially tinged, oh boy – there comes the Cavalry of the 1st Hypocrites Regiment, stormin’ out Fortress Moral Outrage!
Yet what I want to know is: will the press corps still defend Obama against the attack of Republican X during the general election campaign? Will the same press people hiss and harr-umph against a Republican campaign surrogate if/when he says that Obama may have a hidden agenda? Will the same press corps storm out of the fortress again to bash the GOP candidate?
Of course they won’t. As with every long-winded campaign, the dynamics in this campaign will have changed as well within three months or so. Why? Because journalists are human, believe it or not.
Right now just about every journalist who has seen Obama on the stump is impressed by the man’s oratory and rhetorical skills. That is very understandable because he has that gift. I’ve read stories and snippets in the past weeks where editors have said that they’ve had to take junior reporters off the Obama beat because they were clearly on Obama’s side, after visiting just one of the Senator’s campaign events. Veteran journalists come out of an Obama event completely puzzled and confused, asking themselves how in hell they are supposed to write an objective, possibly even critical article about the man.
But give it three months. Like with Bill Clinton in 1992, who was equally able to mesmerize journalists while on the stump, the effects of Obamania will wear off. So will the present knee-jerk reaction towards anything Clinton. Remember, dear Old Timers, how you and your buddies tried to tear down Clinton from the moment he hit the White House? Sure, he may have had the wrong approach towards the press once he sat down behind his desk in the Oval Office but the MSM didn’t exactly give him the time of day either.
So what I’m going to say now is what Bill Clinton has basically argued already – and he should know, because he’s been there, right in the middle of it.
To the Democratic voter who doesn’t want another Republican in the White House: if Barack Obama is nominated as the Democratic candidate, the press will no longer give him quarter. As soon as the ticker tape falls on the Convention in Denver, the very same press corps that danced Kumbaya around Obama will switch to a very different set of priorities.
It will be somewhat like this, straight out of a George Romero movie. The lights will be on and Obama will be looking at the MSM representatives, smiling as they smile back. Then the lights will fail for a second, and when they’re turned back on, he’s suddenly facing a bunch of evil vampires. And they will be out for blood – any blood.
Because political, thick, scandallous blood is the colour of the ink that sells newspapers. It is the drug that powers TV broadcasts, pays salaries, and is the only kind of blood that makes a sound: that of falling coins. Dollar bills will no longer be a grayish-green but rather printed in blood ink, and the owners and shareholders of the media companies can’t wait to rake in the piles.
The very same journalists that are now slamming the Clintons in a fit of fake moral outrage will cry out for racial slurs, and they’ll claw at the target candidate to get even more pungent ones. News must sell, not inform; elections are big moneymakers for advertising departments. All bets will be off, today’s sheep will be wolves, and unlike most Democrats, most Republicans won’t be wagging their moral fingers at their candidate. On the contrary.
Suddenly, Obama will find that he can no longer rely on the vampires to sing Kumbaya, keeping his enemies at bay. Instead, he will find that he’s in dire need of a thick skin and a really good War Room for some heavy duty fast responses. He will find that his one-time friends are not keeping the lions away from him, but are actually pushing him towards the GOP werewolves.
Mark Halperin and John F. Harris got many things right in their book ‘The Way To Win’, which is about campaigning, but they were really right on the money with this advice to any aspiring political campaigner:
“Journalists are never your friends.”
Halperin and Harris should know. They’re vampires.
Communicatiestrateeg en schrijver van het boek ‘Megafoonpolitiek‘. Op Twitter te vinden als @kajleers. Politiek bewust, voormalig financieel-economisch journalist, muziekmaker, professionele kletskous, schrijver. Geeft ook social media-trainingen, denkt graag met je mee over communicatiestrategie. En ja, content is en blijft King.