You knew it was going to happen–the inevitable comparison between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Governor Sarah Palin and their interactions with the media. Yesterday on Howard Kurtz’s “Media Buzz”, he addressed a viewer’s question that questioned whether or not the media were being too critical of Clinton’s lack of availability to the press.
View the video:
Overall, Kurtz addresses the question relatively fairly, but does so incompletely. First, comparing presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates is comparing apples to oranges, but if that’s the comparison, let us address that. Clinton has been an official candidate for president for over a month and has yet to give an interview. By comparison, Governor Palin gave her first interview within three weeks of her nomination. It should be noted that any avoidance of the press by Palin during the 2008 campaign was due to the inept handlers of the McCain campaign, like Steve Schmidt who recently defended Clinton’s avoidance of the press in an interview with NPR:
“The premise of your question presupposes that the way that Hillary Clinton needs to reach voters is through the national media, and that’s simply not the case anymore,” said Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser on John McCain’s Straight Talk Express campaign back in 2000.
He argues a campaign as sophisticated Clinton’s can bypass the media filter and target voters directly.
“The notion that real voters worried about real issues care one whit about how often a presidential candidate talks to their traveling press corps or answers questions from them is just ludicrous. It’s not the case,” he said.
We are reminded, yet again, why, that in spite of a bevy of GOP candidates who have already announced, Schmidt is relegated to talking about campaigns rather than managing them.
An e-mail about her schedule at the Republican National Convention gave almost no hint of what was to come.
“Here’s what I’ve got for you for media to this point at the RNC,” wrote McAllister, her communications director.
Scheduled interviews: Newsweek, National Public Radio, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, USA Today, National Review, Fox News, Bloomberg. The PBS program “NOW” had canceled with no explanation, he wrote.
“The convention itself is requesting you to act as a surrogate for McCain for national media,” being available to reporters during a scheduled block of time, McAllister wrote.
He listed that one under “Outstanding media requests (not granted yet due to scheduling conflicts or dubious importance).”
Others in that group included the BBC, Wisconsin Public Radio, a forum moderated by “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, and Pan Desi, which McAllister described as “the first English-language TV network for South Asians.”
Palin was, of course, later nominated for vice president and thus no longer was to act as a surrogate for the campaign, which by all accounts, she was perfectly willing to do had she not later received the nomination. While the likes of Schmidt did shield Palin from the media, she still was more open to the media than Clinton has been. However, let’s address the other transparency issue: Palin’s emails. That’s how we know of Palin’s willingness to talk to the media. You can actually read her email. They weren’t deleted. They weren’t stored on a server in Todd’s airplane hangar. The media were able to obtain them and later obtained every non-classified email she sent as Governor. Where are Clinton’s emails? The media have not only been unable to obtain an interview from Clinton; they haven’t been able to obtain many emails–be it a SPAM email of a Nigerian prince offering loads of cash or a real email perhaps requesting a donation to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for an arms deal. But, hey, at least they have that security footage from Clinton’s visit to Chipotle.