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Guest Dispatch: Republicans and Messaging

The Political Industrial Complex (PIC) runs vast and wide in American politics. It runs especially deep in this city. We have a cadre of political and communications experts from both political parties that make a living advising political campaign. It is not a bad or good thing. It just is. I’ll have more to say about the PIC in the weeks ahead.

The media is an essential component of the PIC. Without these experts, no shows. No shows, no advertising. No advertising, no money. You get the picture. Like any tool, political campaigns or political parties should use these experts. Some are quite good. I have good friends on both sides of the aisle that do this work for a living and they are experts at their craft.

However, these outside advisers should never be allowed to take over a campaign or messaging for a political party (at the DNC, RNC, House & Senate members, etc.). The real good ones will tell you this is so. Campaigns and political parties should be managed and run by the folks appointed or elected to do so. Good policy makes for good politics. Turn that around and, well, you’re in trouble.

This week’s Guest Dispatch from our friend in South Florida, Arthur Freyre, reviews an article that discusses an element of the PIC, messaging. Have a good week. —  Jason Poblete

Republicans and Messaging

Arthur Freyre, Esq.

Last couple of weeks, I have written the need on the Republican Party to develop a better message in light of this past election.  Last week was not been a great week for the GOP. Among other things, Republicans were accused of being racist, sexist  because they questioned U.N. Ambassador Rice’s role in the Benghazi matter. They are now also against the Enlightenment due to an answer from Senator Marco Rubio on the genesis of humanity.

Military blogger Michael Yon posted an item on his site last week that is well worth a read: “How David Petraeus Mastered the Media” by Willy Stern.   It was an enlightening piece in that you could take those same concepts and apply it to our current political situation. Not surprisingly, the advice is common sense, but some that we all need to relearn.  There are 4 main points that one can distill from this article:

  1.  Learn your terrain.  Former secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld once describe the media aspect in the war on terror in the following manner, “…Today we are engaged in the first war in history-unconventional and irregular as it may be-in an era of e-mails, blogs, cell phones, Blackberrys, Instant Messaging, digital cameras, a global Internet with inhibitions, hand held video cameras, talk radio, 24 hours news broadcast, satellite television.  There’s never been a war fought in this environment before.”  TGIF used to stand for, Thank God It’s Friday”.  Now it represents Twitter, Google, Internet, and Facebook.  This means that there are many sources that information can become disseminated.  But also, more opportunities that a dumb statement can be recorded and go viral on the web.
  2. Research, research, research.  Because of these multiple sources, one needs to research the media outlet, the blogger, the website, and so forth.  One needs to read their articles and blog posts.  When analyzing, ask yourself, “Are they ideological in their reporting or are they intellectually honest?”
  3.  Cultivate relationships.  When cultivating relationships with the media, understand that they are not your friends.  They may like you, but they have a job to do.  Seek to know the beat writers.  But seek to develop a relationship with those reporters who are intellectually honest.  As Stern explains in his article, this requires opportunities to have the reporter know you.  This means 100% off the record meetings.
  4. Use Discretion.   Be discreet when you open up to the media.  A great example of non-discretion involves Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who because of a Rolling Stone article was forced to resign.  Another recent example would be Senator Marco Rubio’s response to a question about “How old the Earth was?”  Instead of giving the answer the Senator gave, (link here), Senator Rubio’s response should have been, “I’ll leave that question to theologians or scientists.” or something similar. Sometimes, it is okay not to answer the question.

In order to win the media war, Republicans need to realize the terrain of the new media- it is more ideological.  It requires that we cultivate relations with reporters in order to know who is more ideological or who is intellectually honest.  We should seek out those reporters who have a history of being intellectually honest.  They may not agree with us, but at least they will report the truth in a fair and balanced manner.

I would encourage you to read the entire article because there is more good information that one can learn.




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