Rand Paul comes out swinging...at interviewers

In a round of interviews yesterday, Rand Paul took on questions he found unfair, and got into an argument with Savannah Guthrie of the Today show. The predictable result was return fire from talking head pundits, unhappy over his refusal to play the game on the ground rules the media likes to set.  In the words of T. Beckett Adams of the Washington Examiner, it was a “media pile-on.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., became the target of media criticism Wednesday after he accused NBC News' Savannah Guthrie during an interview of "editorializing" her questions.

"That Rand Paul sure is a charmer," tweeted Business Insider'sNicholas Carson, after Paul said Today Show co-anchor Guthrie was phrasing her questions as declaratives rather than interrogatives during an interview with the newly declared 2016 presidential candidate.

Politico's Ben White tweeted, "Politicians mansplaining to female journos how to conduct an interview is just, well, it's just very bad."

Here is the interview with Ms. Guthrie:

The hoary Democrat spin of the GOP “war on women” was picked up by several commentators, including Chuck Todd on MSNBC (embedded below because almost nobody saw it when broadcast):

Paul shot back: “I’ve Been Universally Short Tempered and Testy with Both Male and Female Reporters” (Mediaite).

That is true, and it may be the best signal for the senator from Kentucky to heed.  Without question, the GOP base, sick to death of unfair media treatment, will cheer Paul on.  And he did something that many of us have longed for (via CNN).

Rand Paul says he doesn't want to be grilled about abortion until Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz answers similarly tough questions.

My own opinion is that Rand is pursuing a good strategy, but he needs to quickly refine his skills.  It is important to be likable, especially when taking on media interviewers who have been chosen for their Q Score (likability).  By shushing Savannah Guthrie, Paul left himself wide open, and Wasserman Schultz took advantage:

Wasserman Schultz hit back -- highlighting Paul's testy interviews with female television anchors, too, by saying she hopes he can "respond without 'shushing' me."

President Reagan was a master of being genial while also refusing to kowtow to media gotcha questions.  It is an open question in my mind whether or not this is a skill that can be picked up or a gift that is inherent in a personality.

Megyn Kelly’s interview with Rand Paul last night saw a mixture of criticism and concern.

What works for Sen. Paul in the primaries will not work in a general election.  I think voters do not want a president whom they perceive as “short-tempered and testy” (in the senator’s own words).  I realize that Rand Paul is running on ideas and change.  But the sad reality is that a huge number of voters, probably a majority, choose their president based on factors like their comfort level in having a beer with the person.  To paraphrase an old saying, you go to the voters with the electorate you have.