The issue in ’18 elections: the media

Republicans are pretty good at winning elections, so the strategy they reportedly have settled on for the 2018 congressional elections requires this assumption: You hate reporters more than politicians.

McClatchy News reports today that GOP strategists have indicated that anger against “the media” is now an integral part of winning the next election.

The hope, say these officials, is to convince Trump die-hards that these mid-term races are as much a referendum on the media as they are on President Trump. That means embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them.

David Woodard, a political consultant for South Carolina Republicans whose clients have included Sen. Lindsey Graham and Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, recalled the old adage often quoted by politicians: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

That’s dead now.

“If you pick a fight with them, I think it kind of helps you, and I don’t think many people care,” Woodard said.

The strategy certainly doesn’t mean literally fighting the media. The strategists interviewed say they don’t want their candidates imitating Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, who last month was charged with assaulting a reporter in Montana.

But the aftermath of that incident was instructive for party strategists. Conservatives media figures, such as Laura Ingraham and Brent Bozell, didn’t rush to condemn Gianforte; they criticized the reporter. And the ensuing coverage, according to one Republican watching the race, energized the GOP voters.

Charlie Sykes, the former Wisconsin conservative talk show host, said since Hillary Clinton won’t be on the ballot, running against the media is “perfect.”

  • MrE85

    Both sides like to blame the media for a lot, but I’m not buying it. I believe we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    Go ahead and do your jobs, legit news media. We voters will have to do ours.

  • Gary F

    It’s becoming more obvious to more and more Americans, most of the media is just an arm of the Democratic party. Pair that with the people being shown with Trump Derangement Syndrome on college campuses, “science” and “woman’s” walks, and listening to Hillary Clinton say last week of why she lost the election, the middle is truly getting turned off by what they see.

    • This is the “new reality” in a world full of people who aren’t interested in facts.

      • Gary F

        It seems that since Trump won the WaPo and NYT use of the term “anonymous sources” has exploded. So, yes I agree.

        • Rob

          So you’re saying that insiders who don’t want to be named for fear of getting fired, are not being factual?

        • seedhub

          Which, of course, is another way of saying, “Since Trump won, the number of leaks from the White House has exploded.”

        • X.A. Smith

          That’s because they’re trying to hold on to their jobs while warning the rest of us what a complete tire fire this administration is.

      • AL287

        There is so much information out there on cable, Internet, etc. that no one seems to know what the facts are anymore.

        The whole world is on information overload which wasn’t the case before the 24/7 news cycle.

        Combine that with the stubbornness and ignorance on the part of a great many consumers of news and information and anarchy rules as evidenced by the attack in Portland and the subsequent protests requiring police intervention to prevent outright violence and additional fatalities.

        The latest Tweet by Trump attacking Mayor Khan is the very thing he rails against about the horrible, awful mainstream press—taking things out of context and using it to his own, sick advantage.

      • L. Foonimin

        Agreed, but this isn’t a New reality, thus it has always been but today with the advent of Internet technology and the 24 hour news cycle facts and reason are being squeezed out.

      • Gary F
        • I’ve enjoyed watching that narrative spread in the last day or so, including the assertion that CNN was directing the placement of flowers.

          In fact, the only two CNN people there are the woman with the microphone and the guy with the camera.

          The cops were doing the directing.

          But, yes, this is an ongoing gripe of mine, the inability of TV to show proper perspective and context. (I’d love to give you a link to it but MPR has abandoned a lot of our history, even if it was some of the best writing I’ve ever done)

          I first wrote about it at the 2004 DNC convention in Boston, where protests looked intense, but, in fact, took place in an empty and abandoned subway stop.

          It’s not that the TV news is faked; people really did bring flowers. It’s that the TV is really bad at context and people are only too happy to believe it as gospel. This is not a left v. right reality. This is a reality of the medium.

          This is the same reality as what I referred to in this post:

        • kennedy

          Knife wielding Muslims attack and murder people in London: conservatives call for faith leaders to publicly disavow violence and for police intervention to restore order

          Knife wielding white supremacist attacks and murders people in Portland: conservatives gather for “free speech” rally, carrying weapons and wearing bullet proof vests

          Facts are what happened. Context starts to become subjective. Our personal responses and justifications generally follow confirmation bias.

        • >>More fake news.<<

          I'll agree that "Powerline" is most certainly fake news.

    • Rob

      “The media is just an arm of the Democratic party.” Do you mean Fox News, the Blaze, The Drudge Report, National Review, Breitbart, et al?
      ‘Cuz those media turn me off, mos’ def.

    • >>most of the media is just an arm of the Democratic party.<<

      Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    • Jerry

      Basically, the Republican Party platform is ignorance and denial.

    • kennedy

      Drink Kool-Aid much? Sorry, that’s a bit snarky. But seriously, you just demonstrated that you’ve bought in to blaming the media and are using that to discount coverage unfavorable to your beliefs.

    • RBHolb

      Why do you put science in quotation marks?

      • Jerry

        Why did he put women in quotation marks?

        • Veronica

          No, he put woman in quotation marks. The disdain is so great that it can only be singular.

    • Chris

      Hilarious for you to mention “the middle” in any of your posts.

  • Guest

    Media covers side A on Monday and side B on Tuesday and say they are balanced. However, 1/2 are ticked off on Monday and 1/2 on Tuesday and nobody thinks the media is balanced.

    Both sides often talk past each other (less filling, tastes great) but folks are truly hungry for information, they already know about opinions.

    DO A JOINT ARTICLE. No labels, no rants, no accusations. Just direct points and direct counter points by two informed people and an editor. Speak to each side’s concerns with a joint article, written and agreed to by both, with the help of a media editor.

    Civility and facts deserve a chance.

    • >>DO A JOINT ARTICLE. No labels, no rants, no accusations. Just direct points and direct counter points by two informed people and an editor. <<

      Oddly enough, I hear this type of story frequently on MPR.

      • Guest

        True, but having two guests on the air jointly doesn’t give the time for thoughtful, researched answers. MPR does joint guests better than most. TV shows often let two sides angrily talk at the same time thinking it brings ratings.

        BUT laying out the reasons-for-conclusions rather than just stating conclusions convinces more folks. MPR’s off the cuff joint chat IS a step in the right direction.

        • >>TV shows often let two sides angrily talk at the same time thinking it brings ratings.<<

          Don't even get me started about this…

          /When that starts to happen, I quickly turn the channel.

          • Guest

            Same here. Their goal is emotion, not information. You’d think the moderator would have control of whose mic is on at one time.

  • Al

    …is there ANYONE I hate more than politicians? Probably not. Good luck with that, GOP.

    • Jerry
      • Al

        Touché. 😀

      • jon

        Might have been a better point if Illinois Nazis weren’t running for office as politicians…

        • Jerry

          Why not both?

  • Chris

    The GOP would like to find anything other than their embrace of Trump to be the issue in 2018. Sorry, won’t work.

  • lindblomeagles

    Although I don’t condone the GOP’s strategy (and think its very dangerous), I understand the theory behind it. Although America presents itself as one nation, we are actually a collection of nations, of which, the four largest ones are whites, minorities, rural communities, and urban communities. The media’s largest audience tends to be rural whites, the folks that supported Donald Trump. For 20 years, rural whites in particular believe the media is too liberal and slants coverage of “their guys and goals.” This was extremely evident in 2016 where despite FACTUAL reporting regarding Donald Trump and his antics, rural whites disbelieved the media. By concocting this strategy, the GOP is betting rural whites, again, will feel attacked for believing what they believe and for electing Donald Trump. The GOP assumes rural whites won’t keep actual up to date information about Donald Trump’s gaffes and the GOP’s ineffectiveness at governance. Why, you ask, have rural whites developed this view? That’s a whole other set of things best kept for a later discussion.