Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Chris Cillizza, blogging for The Washington Post:

Rendell: 'The Media Does Not Like the Clintons'

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said Monday that the media's pro-Obama (or anti-Clinton) bias explains in part why Barack Obama is portrayed as running away with the Democratic presidential nomination (instead of being locked in a close fight with Hillary Rodham Clinton).

"The media does not like the Clintons for whatever reason," Rendell, a Clinton supporter, said in an interview with The Fix. "Maybe some of it's [the Clintons'] fault, but the media does not like the Clintons."

Rendell insisted that the "media has relished this fall with glee that I have never seen in any other candidate in the thirty years I have been in the business." As a result, "Right now the senator can do no wrong," Rendell said of Obama....

Is there anything to this? Sure -- there's definitely anti-Clinton animosity in the media. It's been around for a long time and is unconnected to Barack Obama.

But so what? If the press doesn't love you and you want to run for president, tough. It's just a fact of life -- it's a given, and your job as a candidate is to find a way to neutralize it. Hillary Clinton pulled that off when she was running for Senate in 2000, by improving her own image. She simply didn't do that in this campaign, at least not from Iowa on.

If you can't raise your own positives, you have to raise your opponent's negatives. That's obviously what the Clinton campaign has been trying to do -- but either what you do works or it doesn't, and what the Clinton campaign is doing isn't working. Poppy Bush faced this problem in his race against Michael Dukakis. Dukakis may not have been charismatic, but the press liked his life story and he was way up in the polls. The campaign Bush ran was reprehensible, but it got the job done. The Clinton campaign just can't pull that off.

Nobody on the Republican side complained that the press has long worshipped John McCain. All the candidates just went out and tried to beat him. And maybe they lost because of that press favoritism -- the GOP electorate's good feelings about McCain were largely the result of years of favorable press. But you play the hand you're dealt. Unfairness is a given, and you just have to make the best of it.


One more point: The Clinton campaign has suggested that its attacks on Obama are just a taste of what he'd be likely to face in a general-election campaign -- the implication being that the Clintonites are toughening him up for that contest, testing him the way the Republicans would.

But couldn't the same argument be made with regard to Clinton? If she were to become the nominee, she'd be the one the press wanted to lose.

I'd say Obama is the one who's subjecting Clinton to a taste of what the rest of the campaign would be like -- she'd have to run against someone who regularly gets great press, while she gets a lot of lousy press. This primary campaign suggests that she doesn't have a strategy to overcome that disadvantage. If she can't beat Obamamania, how was she planning to beat the Straight Talking Maverick Man, whose press coverage would surely have turned overwhelmingly positive again as soon as she clinched the nomination?

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