Stop Dancing with the MSM

Rich, isn’t it?  The U.S. lives under the tyranny of feminism yet the MSM was in a snit about Rand Paul.  Paul’s tart responses to NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie last week on the Today Show earned him MSM brickbats.  Odd, the media’s protectiveness of gals, who are supposed to be the equal of guys.  Yet the evidence is in, based on MSM reactions: girl reporters can’t take the rough stuff, so men -- that’s Republican men -- better let the Savannahs say what they please, driving their narratives over them.  Better to be road-kill than lambasted as “mansplainers.”

Actually, the MSM found the Savannah-Rand encounter convenient.  They’re lap-dogging for the Democrats, who intend to go heavy on the woman-centric spin in 2016.  Hence, the need to paste Paul as an anti-woman ogre.  Other Republican presidential candidates beware.  That includes Jeb, whose date-expired kinder and gentler Republicanism buys him limited immunity through the caucuses and primaries only. 

Despite some backpedaling in his encounter with Guthrie, Paul was onto something important in his Today Show clash.  Why should GOP candidates lie down to be run over by reporters toiling for the enemy?  Whether Republicans mansplain or kowtow, enterprising reporters will spin as they please, and as they please invariably hurts Republicans and favors Democrats.

A new strategy when engaging the media is required.  Its counter the conventional wisdom, but what’s conventional isn’t always wise.  It’s Alinsky-like advice to Republican presidential candidates, when tangling with the MSM.  It comes in three easy to assemble parts: 1) talk frankly; 2) dispute assumptions and disrupt reporter’s narratives; 3) end-run the MSM at every opportunity.

Talk Frankly 

When a coiffed hack from NBC sticks a mic in your face, Mr. -- maybe Mrs. -- GOP presidential aspirant, and asks a question, answer frankly.  Drop the overly hedged language, the droll politicalese.  Nowadays, it might just be clever to not be so clever.  Perhaps straightforward messaging wrapped around a hard core of principle is what voters hunger for.

Not all voters, mind you, but your target voters.  That’s the goal: reaching your target voters.

Who’s NBC’s audience, anyway?  Many are left-leaning viewers.  Independents?  Sure, not all, but, yes, they watch.  Who are those independents and what states do they vote in?  What segments among those independents do you need? 

The takeaway: Why answer an MSM reporter’s question to appease audiences that are hostile to begin with… whose votes you’ll never get… whose states are out of reach.  Do you really believe you’re going to grab the vote of a twenty-something, female, Jewish, lib social worker in Westchester County, New York?  Think you’ll lockdown Westchester?  New York State? 

Have the discipline and gumption to speak to the voters you a) need to mobilize among NBC’s audience and b) need to pickup to win battleground states -- those dwindling number of contestable states.

DC’s GOP consultants will bay: “You can’t speak frankly.  Independents are very sensitive, very, very volatile.  The election hinges on them.  Why, one wrong pronoun, one misplaced adjective…  We have all this polling and focus group data that says so.” 

Thing is, Republican consultants’ track records of success in recent years is a tad spotty.  The consultants’ milquetoast approach, their walking-on-eggshells fear of alienating independents because a Republican presidential candidate dare speak to them as adults -- voters who may just find straight talk welcome, raises the question: “How well did your approach work in ’08 and ’12,  Presidents McCain and Romney, notwithstanding?  Err, sorry. 

Dispute assumptions and disrupt reporters’ narratives 

This is where we conjure up our inner Alinsky, and with much relish.  The value of not letting reporters get away with their narratives is: 1) you’re communicating to your voter base, which must be mobilized, and to independents, who must be persuaded.  Calling reporters on assumptions, or hanging lanterns on “gotcha” questions -- or lines of questioning -- help voters understand that reporters are biased; it cues voters to recognize rigged questioning when they see it.  2) It steals initiative away from reporters, who are spinning webs to ensnare GOP candidates in their narratives.  3) Challenge reporters enough, and there’s an edge that accrues to Republican candidates.  It helps level the playing field some.  It builds candidate confidence and boosts supporters’ morale.

Bawl DC Republican consultants: “Confrontation will only make candidates look bad.  After all, reporters, producers, and editors have final cuts.  Our candidates will just come off as petulant.  That’s a sorry face to show voters.” 

Confrontation only looks bad when badly executed.  Who said a Republican candidate need come off as irritated, dour, or snappy?  The best way to serve fish -- cold, with a big warm grin.  There are times, however, as Newt Gingrich illustrated in his faceoff with CNN’s John King in 2012, when a display of anger goes a long way.  Just don’t overdo it.        

End-run the MSM at every opportunity

High time that the MSM game plan is rethought in GOP campaign communications strategies.  Time to sweep right and end-run the MSM.  Remember, the goal for Republicans is to reach target voters in critical electoral states.  The MSM isn’t exactly an enabler of that goal.  The MSM’s aim is to impose screens that dilute, distort, or mute Republican messaging.  The key for Republicans: go local, go grassroots. 

Local means engaging media in communities in key states.  Sure leftist taint may have reached newsrooms in Dayton or Cedar Rapids, but ego and ambition might override ideology.  Plenty of local reporters -- and producers and editors -- would hanker to raise their profiles.  If a local reporter slants his coverage, give him B-list treatment afterward.  Reward reporters who shoot-straight. 

Go grassroots.  Nowadays, there’s no shortage of communications channels outside the national and local media.  To effectively exploit the grassroots takes infrastructure, and that takes investments of time, money, and personnel.  It’s a heavier lift.  Republicans haven’t done grassroots very well in recent years.  But the grassroots is integral to making an MSM end-run succeed.             

Wrote Bruce Walker in last Saturday’s American Thinker:   

In the 2016 election cycle, which includes the battle for the Republican nomination and then the battle in the general election, Republican candidates ought to publicly announce that they will decline interviews with news organizations patently hostile to conservatives, that the Republican nomination debates will exclude these as well, and that this ban will extend throughout the general election.

Solid advice, but let’s give it a little Alinsky spin.  Put word out on the street that fair reporting is rewarded; bias is not.  Then cherry-pick an MSM outlet for a freeze-out.  Freeze out others, as required.  The frozen out will whine and scream.  The rest of the MSM might join the chorus.  If they want to make a cause célèbre out of a Savannah clone being off the press bus, all the better.  Republicans can play off the MSM’s reaction.  Go local and grassroots in making the case why media bias is unfair to voters.  Voters deserve more than being shovel-fed manure by reporters who are preprogrammed Democrat operatives.

The DC GOP consultant cabal will howl: “But you can’t do that!  You just don’t get it.  The MSM is too powerful and”…

And with thinking like that, there may not have been an American revolution in 1776.