Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain and the press

I went by a Veterans for McCain rally today at Freedom Park, where about 50 vets listened to remarks from one of John McCain's fellow POWs and watched a video about the Arizona senator's war-time experiences.

Lee Teague, the chairman of the Mecklenburg County GOP, noted the handful of reporters in the room. He was surprised, he said, because he thought they were all traipsing around the world with Barack Obama.

Obama's trip to Iraq and Afghanistan has drawn more attention than similar trips by McCain. News anchors and big-name reporters are all aboard. It all lends itself to the kind of caricature of a media love fest that Saturday Night Live lampooned during the primary.

Now the McCain campaign is laughing back.

The campaign is staging a contest to see which of the two "The media loves Obama" videos people prefer.

"The media is in love with Barack Obama," a campaign statement said. "If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny."


Anonymous said...

The media do have a tendency to swoon over celebrity. But the truth is, it's average Americans who are excited about Barack Obama ... and the media have little choice but to report it.

That said, McCain's attempt at judo on this issue will fail. Neither of the two spots was very interesting.

More to the point, McCain isn't either. We already know what kind of president he would be: another semi-literate warmonger with the added liability of being a gold-digging adulterer. What's not to love?

Anonymous said...

PS I hope you'll find time to keep your blog more current - and also time to take a vacation this summer, too!

Anonymous said...

When all the network anchors get back from tagging along with Sen. Barack Obama, they're sure to balance out their presidential campaign coverage with some interviews with Sen. John McCain.

Why, CBS will probably come up with a "campaign closeup" featuring Sen. McCain which they can run sometime in the overnight cycle between the end of the "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Early Show" with Harry Smith and Co.

And surely Jay Leno will make room for a chat with the Republican standard-bearer sometime before his final show on NBC next May.

Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Good Morning America" will probably have a free day for brunch with John McCain on Fifth Avenue sometime between now and Election Day.

And John Roberts of CNN is bound to be looking for a good political interview somewhere along the way between his anchor desk and the Canadian border this summer, eh?

Heck, if the McCain campaign plays its cards right, even if Oprah's busy until November, they still might be able to arrange a luncheon sketching session with Observer cartoonist Kevin Siers at a suitable Uptown Charlotte restaurant. Kevin can draw Republicans and Democrats with equal aplomb as he follows the campaign on the Straight Brush Express.

Anonymous said...

By Ronn Torossian, President & CEO, 5W Public Relations

Working in public relations and, in particular, crisis management, there is a tremendous balancing act between projecting clients’ images and agendas and, at the same time, protecting them – essentially keeping the press at bay. Often, as it is, the purpose of PR and wrangling with the media is to encourage positive coverage for whomever or whatever you represent. If the story is not going to be positive, then it is best just not to do it. The job of a good PR person is to protect his clients and make them look their best in the media and in public.

It is for this reason that I found myself agreeing with the recent Obama campaign's decision to ban a reporter deemed to be from a publication believed to be less than objective for Obama from his press plane on this week’s International “foreign policy” trip. Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of reporters wanting to travel with the presidential candidate – as the campaign received 200 requests for press seats on the plane, of which they were able to grant only 40 – so why grant space to a publication who has previously hurt the campaign, and who may skew coverage in place of someone less inclined to do so? It is hard to imagine the New York Yankees allowing a Boston-minded sports reporter unfettered locker room access.

Candidates and clients as well, offer access to media with the hope, and perhaps even the expectation that media will present a positive narrative. Yet, anyone worth his salt in public relations knows all to well that media access by its very nature presents the possibility of either a good or a bad story. So, if there is choice, why ante-up with media deemed to be biased against your position when there are so many other journalists one can gamble on to better the odds?

Equally as reporters at the top tier publications want exclusive information, unique off the record comments and the like, so too must there be a very fair and real expectation for them that if they present a negative or seemingly prejudicial story then the possibility of being excluded is very real – especially when there is a major issue at stake, like a presidential election, and especially where the candidate has the luxury of choosing any media he prefers. Indeed, he cannot avoid bad coverage from someone inclined to do so, but he does not need to offer a seat on his plane.

The banned reporter in question, Ryan Lizza of New Yorker Magazine learned that Obama had earned a reputation of "'you're not going to punk me, you're not going to roll me over, you're not going to jam me.'"[i][i] This is not an issue of Freedom of the Press; Lizza can write what he wants, but Obama is not obligated to open his arms in welcome. Outrage by media over such policies is also hypocritical, as stated in The Huffington Post, “Wow. So it's gonna be like that, is it? Retribution for unfavorable coverage is a chilling thing to contemplate.” No, it is not chilling – it is valid. As journalists are arbiters of fate, they should expect that those on the receiving end of their opinions or ideals be cautious.

I find myself agreeing with this statement from Anita Dunn, an Obama advisor, “The press corps wouldn’t be doing its job it if weren’t demanding more access than we’re willing to give,” Ms. Dunn said. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t occasionally irritate the press.”[ii][ii]

I understand those of us in the public relations business who feels that media must not be allowed to simply run rampant over clients - especially those who garner tremendous media attention. It does not mean that we should not cooperate with media – We do, but while we would love totally positive coverage, we generally seek what we can expect to be fair and objective.

[i][i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/21/obamas-revenge-emnew-york_n_113969.html
[ii][ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/us/politics/19campaign.html?_r=2&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin