Tuesday, February 02, 2016


We all know that mainstream-media campaign reporters will retransmit seemingly any spin fed to them by a candidate's staff, without subjecting it to any sort of smell test. But there must be some limit to trail journalists' accommodating nature, right? Let's talk about Jeb Bush. He just spent $14.9 million campaigning in Iowa, only to finish in sixth place, 25 percentage points behind the front-runner, Ted Cruz. MSNBC says he spent $2,884 for every vote he received. There can't still be a reporter willing to paraphrase and publish happy horsepuckey from the Jeb campaign after that kind of blowout -- can there?

Yes, there can. Check out this story from Candace Smith of ABC News:
Jeb Bush and the Perils of High Expectations
This is just the headline, and already we're being spun. Jeb didn't get blown out -- he just failed to meet unreasonably optimistic expectations!
It was just four months ago when Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he thought he would win the Iowa Republican caucuses.

That, obviously, did not happen.

Bush, according to Associated Press results, collected less than 3 percent of the vote. Although he beat the other governors in the race, his main rivals, he still placed far behind former protégé Marco Rubio, who finished a strong third.
Did you catch that? He lost. He lost badly. He lost to his ex-protégé Rubio. But he beat the other governors in the race. So, really, he kinda-sorta won!
In a memo Bush’s top advisers sent this morning to supporters and prominent donors, which was obtained by ABC News after first being reported by Politico, the campaign downplayed the Iowa caucuses because the winners rarely go on to win the nomination.
Jeb didn't want to win Iowa's stinky old caucuses anyway! They're for losers!
"The Jeb 2016 campaign has never made Iowa a centerpiece to winning the nomination. We have long viewed Iowa as just one of 56 contests,” it reads, adding, “The Granite State [of New Hampshire] has a much better track record in selecting the Republican nominee.”
In New Hampshire, Jeb's currently in fourth place, 23 1/2 points behind the leader -- but anything could happen, right?
His poor finish was not wholly unexpected. Advisers and supporters have long known that Bush would not be among the top four in the state. “We finished roughly where I thought we would,” one Florida-based donor told ABC News.
Pay no attention to those predictions of a Jeb Bush victory by ... um, Jeb Bush! (See above, paragraph #1.) We always totally knew he was going to lose! Maybe he always wanted to lose! Maybe he thinks losing is better than winning!

Okay, this is where the article engages with reality -- but only to set up more spin. Here's the reality:
The memo also says Bush’s time in the state was scaled back and that a strategic decision was made in November to shift resources away from Iowa.

That’s not entirely true, however. The campaign did cancel its Iowa TV ad buy to shift money toward staffing on the ground.

But between Bush’s campaign and Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting him, in terms of advertising, they have spent over $2,800 per voter, according to data from Morning Consult, a digital politics and policy outlet.

And the campaign announced in December it was boosting its paid staff in the state to over 20 from 11.
And now here's the spin:
Indeed, Bush has not neglected Iowa outright, as some of his donors would have liked....
So this was merely a strategic error. Sure, he lost Iowa, but he should have blown it off and suffered an even bigger loss, after which he could say to the other candidates, "Screw you guys -- I let you win!"
... Now, the campaign is urging its supporters to pivot to New Hampshire, where Bush has spent substantially more time.

“The real race for the nomination begins on February 9th in New Hampshire. It will set the race going forward and today, Jeb Bush is in a very strong position in the state,” according to the campaign memo.
So Iowa doesn't count at all. Now do you understand why Jeb didn't bother to win there?
Bush, as a Bush, is plagued by the prominence of his family. His Achilles heel may not be the expectations he sets for himself but the expectations of others.
Poor Jeb! How he must suffer having the best-known name in Republican politics! What a difficult burden that is!
When he entered the race, he entered as the presumptive nominee, the guy to beat, a mantle perhaps too heavy for the former Florida governor.

In December, he told CBS News’ John Dickerson that he was happy to not be the front-runner.

"I feel much better back here,” he said.
Jeb didn't fail. We failed Jeb by insisting on making him the presumptive nominee! He was willing to do anything to escape that -- even lose! Can you blame him?
... Now, in the Granite State, the time is ripe for a comeback. If Bush can do well in New Hampshire, he may be able to garner momentum into South Carolina, a state in which his father and brother have won each of their primaries. Bush has a full schedule in New Hampshire, with eight events between Tuesday and Thursday.

Monday night, Bush left Iowa before results were announced to be in place at a town hall in Manchester. “The reset has started as of tonight,” Bush said. “Next Tuesday, we’re going to surprise the world.”
No, seriously, it's totally going to happen from here on out -- you just wait!

Why do news organizations even bother to pay campaign reporters? Wouldn't it be much easier and more profitable to fire reporters like Candace Taylor and let the campaigns write up this sort of propaganda themselves, then pay to have it published? As a news consumer, would you really be able to tell the difference?


Victor said...

The only way I could tell the difference would be if...

Oh hell, unless the PR people for a candidate can't use spell/grammar-check, no one would know the difference.

Our "Fourth Estate" is about as useful as mammies on a male bovine.

Cirze said...

They aren't useless, sweetie.

They are making big bucks writing about the candidates of the owners.

I'm still in bush boy's corner for his being the candidate of the smoke-filled room at the end. Even if no one is smoking.

B v C.

Still the call.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Wonder what he'd say after a dose of truth serum? Wonder how fast he'd quit if he could?

the RaptorMage said...

He was never going to succeed in states, like Iowa, where religiousity is the deciding factor (especially against Cruz, Huckabee, Carson, and Santorum!)... but he can't say that out loud, can he?

Feud Turgidson said...

I freely admit that up until reading this post, it did. not. occur. that Jeb finished high goobernator.

It really adds heft, and hopefully works to help screw up his superpac, that we're not just counting the two current horribles, the Huckste and the rest on the long list of blithering nincompoops, drop-outs, has-beens and never-wasees that've cluttered up the stages and ECW playpens in the various GOP Debates. Just to give that heft: the Wisconsin succubus, Jindal, Pataki, Gilmore & that moron Perry.

I don't know if it speaks well or ill of Iowa GOPers that Jeb finished above Kasich. I'm going with 'well' because Jeb's currently Disengaged From Doing Current Harm, which cannot be said of Kasich. OTOH, Jeb's not been doing any harm for some time, so if they had an ounce of human concern for Ohio, they should have thrown Kasich a few milkbones of false hope.

"there must be some limit to trail journalists' accommodating nature, right?"

Oh, Steve ... surely you know that access gets you free booze & buffets, plus a chance to audition for being captured into the next administration or Fox or some other media give that comes with extended benefits & low copays.

Ten Bears said...

Yes Cirze, Jeb? v Jeb? in a Dress! is a decision that has already been made.

Jeb? in a Dress! "wins."

I fought the lawn. And the lawn won. said...

The campaign insisting that 2 + 2 = 5 will obviously require an ace marketing team, a huge budget and a massive database of rubes.

Go Jeb!

Millions of us in the 2 + 2 = 4 camp are enjoying watching you spend millions proving that the name "Bush" has now been thoroughly discredited!