The latest report on how the McCain campaign is tightly managing Governor Palin’s interactions with both the press and the public is noteworthy but hardly news to observers over the last 10 days. Aside from an interview with People magazine, all of her appearances have been completely controlled by Team McCain. This will continue, apparently, until the Ms. Palin sits down with Charles Gibson at the end of the week. That’ll be two solid weeks of nothing but the same set of soundbites from the GOP’s VP candidate.
What really struck me, though, as I read the AP story was the complicity of the media in allowing this state of affairs to persist. Nowhere have I read of any efforts by the large traveling press corp trailing the McCain/Palin roadshow to break through the cordon around Ms. Palin. Ditto the local press at the various stops. To the contrary, it appears they’ve stood where they were told, kept their mouths shut as instructed and been careful not to rile their handlers.
Chances are they won’t be doing a lot of riling despite my wishes to the contrary (What ever happened to the calling to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?”). The campaign controls who gets on the plane and who doesn’t, who gets invited to briefings and who doesn’t, who gets the leaks and who doesn’t. Unfortunately, not too many news organizations are willing to suffer a competitive disadvantage by taking that risk. Ditto most journalists who don’t want their careers derailed by breaking protocol. This is the kind of devil’s bargain that shape coverage in ways that don’t often get noticed, but is real nonetheless.
Looks like we’re getting closer to that “respectful and deferential” standard all the time.
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OK, we’re all a little obsessed about politics, but just in case the entire space-time continuum goes missing tomorrow, Crowdies will be among the few in the know.
While we’ve been bickering about who the next leader of the free world will be, those wacky scientists over at CERN are getting ready to flip the switch on the Large Hadron Collider. For those of us who slept through high school physics a long time ago, the LHC is basically a 17-mile racetrack buried under the border between France and Switzerland that is designed to accelerate various subatomic particles to within a whisker of light-speed and then slam them into each other. The resulting collisions are expected to generate all sorts of strange particles theorized but never actually found in nature since the Big Bang (no, that’s not McCain’s nickname for the Palin announcement…well, actually it is, but that’s a total coincidence).
Or it could destroy the world. As the National Geographic put it:
There’s also a very, very remote chance that the process will spawn black holes—any one of which could assume an odd orbit within Earth, devouring microscopic chunks of matter until the entire planet is gone, physicists say.
Chances are most of us on this side of the Atlantic will be asleep when the big event happens. I personally will be comforted that if things do go wrong and the world goes “poof” (or whatever sound you make when being sucked over the event horizon), I will probably sleep right through it and that Vladimir Putin will likely go in before me.
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Politico’s Fred Barbash is moderating an online deal today in which he’s asking “policymakers and opinion shapers” this question:
Sarah Palin is scheduled to give her first interview Thursday to ABC’s Charles Gibson. What single question would you be sure to ask if you were him?
Said makers and shapers from all corners have weighed in. Some gotchas, some softballs, some snarkiness, some special-interesty questions — it’s all in in the mix.
This would be mine.
Gov. Palin, most voters didn’t know much about you before your nomination. Because of the way vice presidential nominations work, you were given just 66 days to introduce yourself to American voters. Would you have liked to have had more time for this introduction? Why or why not?
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As we’ve been saying for a long time, Senator McCain is doing a good job baiting Obama supporters to take shots at Palin on issues that, by the end of the exchange, make McCain look best. For example:
• McCain attacks Obama on experience. Obama supporters say “Palin has less.” Days of vigorous rebuttals thereby legitimize the importance of the experience issue. Because McCain has the most experience, McCain therefore looks best on this newly legitimized issue.
• McCain attacks Obama on being a lighter-than-air celebrity. Obama supporters say “Palin is a big celebrity too.” Days of rebuttals thereby legitimize the contention that popularity = lightweight. Because McCain has the least celebrity, McCain looks best on this newly legitimized point-of-view.
• McCain attacks Obama on earmarks. Obama supporters say “Palin has more earmarks.” Days of rebuttals thereby legitimize the importance of fighting earmarks. McCain has no earmarks, so McCain looks best on this newly legitimized issue.
Following the trend in all of these exchanges? McCain’s issues are legitimized. McCain looks best.
Palin doesn’t always fair particularly well in these debates, but SO WHAT? McCain fairs very well, and the top-of-th-ticket is what matters on Election Day. These discussions serve to frame the election around McCain’s strengths – experience, seriousness and “reform” — rather than Obama strengths — a fresh break from Bushonomics, the Bush war and Bush social conservativism.
At least the Obama ad team, while unimaginative as ever in its execution, is doing a better job of staying on the “McCain=Same” message:
Make no mistake, Palin is under the skins of Obama supporters. The most difficult thing for communicators of all stripes — corporate, political, or non-profit — is to not allow personal emotions to derail sound communications strategy.
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