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Monday, October 26, 2015

HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- "The judge, jury and executioner of American politics."

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I want to touch on a sensitive political issue, namely the role of the press in our electoral process, particularly as it relates to Republicans. This is so sensitive, I experienced difficultly trying to publish an earlier version of this article. It is the dirty little secret which everyone knows, but is unwilling to address, namely the formidable power of the press to alter the course of campaigns. The media knows the Democrats have a weak lineup headed by Hillary Clinton, but they are still loyal to the Clintons and the party, and will go to any lengths to twist public opinion against the Republicans.

Donald Trump appears to be the only candidate who knows how to competently joust with the press. For example, after the second debate, Trump was interviewed by NBC's "Today Show" hostess Savannah Guthrie who asked his opinion of a new CNN poll showing his ratings are starting to decline. Instead of taking the bait, Trump asked Guthrie why she wasn't quoting their own NBC poll showing him way ahead. In other words, Trump refused to play the media's game. He knows the press is needed for exposure, but he also understands their political agenda.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dropped out of the race on September 21st, which is probably a good thing as I do not believe he possessed the intestinal fortitude for such a race, at least not yet. Don't get me wrong, I like Walker and watched his July 13th presidential announcement which I thought was rather inspiring. However, his bubble burst in just two short months. Of the 17 GOP candidates, he was the second to last to announce his candidacy, and the second to drop out.

In his exit announcement he took a swipe at Donald Trump, thereby implying Trump was largely to blame for his demise. It is true Walker got in the way of the Trump juggernaut, but so were the other candidates. There are two other reasons for his failure; himself for misjudging the complexities of a presidential run, and the most imposing element of all, the press, or as I refer to it as "the judge, jury and executioner of American politics."

Even before his announcement to run, the press pegged Walker as one of the leaders in the GOP race to be reckoned with, and one of the most conservative. Even the Democrats were afraid of him due to his ability to survive two vicious gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin. Walker was considered anti-union, anti-LGBT, anti-immigration, anti-Planned Parenthood, and (gasp) not politically correct. Such a persona was deemed a genuine threat to the liberal agenda, so an order was likely given to the press to take him down. They did so by simply ignoring him. While they turned their attention to Trump, they shut down Walker simply by ignoring him. Without adequate media exposure, he began to decline in the polls, causing the super-PACs to renege their support for him, along with their money.

During the second GOP debate in California, CNN egged Walker to attack Trump, a tactic he should have been smart enough to avoid. He didn't, and by taking their bait, Trump boxed his ears. CNN also didn't give Walker much of a chance to explain his policies and positions, and was allowed only seven minutes of exposure in a three hour debate. This was followed by the media's talking heads dismissing Walker's performance which resulted in plummeting poll numbers, and his exit.

In other words, Trump wasn't really responsible for Walker's departure, the press was, and the rest of the Republican field should take notice. The liberal media is not interested in having a GOP president and will go to any lengths to prevent a Republican from winning the White House, such as distorting the truth, controlling the ink (media exposure), and manipulating public opinion. Finding fair and balanced reporting is difficult. To illustrate, I make active use of Google's news alerts whereby I receive news reports based on keywords, such as Republican, GOP, Florida, etc. As a story is produced, I am sent an e-mail notifying me of it. This can become rather voluminous. However, I have noticed of all Republican related news stories, maybe one in twenty or twenty-five are fair and balanced, the rest are fallacious and filled with distortions and lies. So much for the journalistic integrity of the main street media.

If I do not hear the words directly from the lips of the candidates myself, I certainly do not rely on the media to accurately report them. For example, consider Trump's McCain flap a couple of months ago, or more recently, Ben Carson's Muslim comments. Both were taken out of context and spun to a gullible public who has been trained to accept short sound bites. Whereas the press doggedly stays focused on Republicans, the Democrats are given a pass, thereby revealing where the media's loyalties reside.

So, what can be done? The candidates must take the press to task, particularly in the remaining debates. Unlike Walker, they should be smart enough to know when they are being baited. Second, they should not allow the press to distort the truth. Through their speeches and social media, the candidates should recognize what reporters and media institutions are not being honest. Boycotting the media outlet is another viable option. Third, do not give press passes or grant interviews to anyone who does not possess press credentials from The Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). This pledge is a sort of hippocratic oath as applied to journalists. The CFAPA pledge means they will conform to ethical standards.

I am also in favor of making the media pay the candidates for their participation in the debates. After all, the press is being amply paid for the debates, not the candidates. Honorariums in the form of donations to charity should be mandated, particularly if the press wants to make a mockery of how debates should be performed. I would also suggest the rest of the candidates take a "media relations" lesson from Trump or hire Newt Gingrich to mentor them. If they do it right, they will not allow themselves to be intimidated and the public will respond favorably.

The one thing the press is very cognizant of is the public's growing mistrust of the media. According to Gallup, "Americans' Trust in the Media Remains at Historic Low." The media can ill-afford to lose the support of John Q. Public, and this represents their Achilles' heel. Should the public turn on the press, it would change politics in America as we know it.

Scott Walker's departure was celebrated as a major victory by the press. The question is, which GOP candidate will allow him/herself to be the next victim to suffer their wrath? Better yet, when will the public say to the press, "Enough is enough!"

By winning the war with the media, Trump has a legitimate chance of winning the election. The media's attempt to control him will backfire in their faces by earning the respect of the public. What the press doesn't seem to grasp is they need Trump more than Trump needs them.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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