Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mizzou’s Risky Media Strategy

Why would students at Mizzou or their supporters be a vocally angry about the media coverage and outpouring of worldwide support for the victims of the deadly attacks in Paris? Selfishness, ignorance, and just plain stupidity are all plausible explanations. They are college kids after all. 

Another, more cynical conclusion, is that it gives an indifferent public cause to attack protestors on social media platforms. This would give protestors and their allies more examples of “institutional racism”. It’s a risky strategy that is likely to backfire on an already tarnished movement. One whose credibility was severely damaged when the student body president for Mizzou claimed that the Klu Klux Klan had invaded the campus in Columbia, Missouri. Telling other students to avoid windows and stay inside. None of which was true and showed the same pension to imbelish the narrative that was seen at the protests in Ferguson. 

They will likely have examples of people lashing out with racial slurs at their callously selfish observations and failed moral equivalencies of the Mizzou protests and the act of war inflicted upon Paris. But provoking, or “trolling”, to get those responses in the manner that they did, will likely be far more harmful to their movement and Mizzou’s over all brand, than any sympathy gained from pointing out racist replies to their selfishness. 
**This writer will not be linking any sources or examples of the attention seeking tactics used by protestors and their allies. That is precisely what they want out their sophomoric stunt.

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St. Reagan 

The image of Ronald Reagan is a matter of great contention in the ranks of the GOP nearly 30 years after he left office. Not so much the man, but the image. The myth. The brand. Two notable media figures, one an intellectual from the Midwest named George Will and the other a pundit from Hell’s Kitchen called Bill O’rielly, passionately asserted a claim to the valuable political brand.

So, we have a tough-guy image that’s a persona on cable news and we have a long time Sunday morning show face arguing over minutia in a book. But it somewhat represents the factions in the GOP; Tea Party vs Republican. It’s not a war. I don’t want be hyperbolic about an argument over a book, but Will checked O’reilly on his research and did so by flipping his brand back on him.

“Caution — you are about to enter a no-facts zone.”

That was an absolute dagger. So, the pundit from Hell’s Kitchen went all Hell’s Kitchen on his quiet literary critic. Who has his own list of impressive bona fides. It didn’t play well, it was defensive and at times incoherent. Calling him a “hack” repeatedly. Will shot back to his interrogator that it was he that was helping the progressives destroy the Republicans’ brand by tainting Reagan with some memo.

Will’s main point is how the book does not consult living sources and a vast library dedicated to the two term president who arguably defined the 1980’s. Something that has somehow defined the new Republican Party. Both by choice, and by events on the global stage. What would Reagan Do? Always comes up at every turn in today’s political fodder. How would he handle this crisis or that crisis? How he handled the soviets, who evolved/devolved back into the Russians, who are in Syria acting against American wishes, something that makes Reagan relevant to Republicans and reality. We turn to this man, this era, this myth of a better time and a better place for guidance not unlike some that appeal to the Saints.

It is no wonder that two established media figures were so quick to spill rhetorical blood on camera over the matter. I’m typically cynical of the motivation of the media. This is about a book after all. Do I plan on reading this book? No. Do I believe George Will read it and knows what he’s talking about in the case? Absolutely. So, this doesn’t seem like a stunt. It felt more like a personal matter, very personal. It felt like a pecking order being established.

As you can see Will remains cool and doesn’t react to the posturing. The reality is; in a moderated civilized debate George Will would intellectually curb-stomp Bill O’rielly on the whatfor’s of conservatism. The image O’rielly tries project, of domination and of someone one doesn’t want mess with, is actually how he stands on the battlefield of ideas next to Will. Inadequate, and it showed.

O’rielly prattled on about some phone call that Will was suppose to give him before writing his thoughts on his book. That’s the baffling part. O’rielly didn’t get that Will had done to him what he had done to Reagan. He didn’t check with him. Reagan’s gone, so, naturally one would consult the library dedicated to his time as the last leader who faced an aggressive Russia. Then it was known as the Soviet Union. This matters because the next president of the United States will have to come to terms with having to tip-toe around post-soviet assertion on the global stage.

This is about more than a fucking memo, to be all Hell’s Kitchen.

Identity Politics

Mother Jones published a small piece on the New Hampshire Republican primary poll done by Monmouth on Monday. It was pretty standard, and the prediction made by the author was a safe one; the spike in the polls will make Marco Rubio a target within his own party. Nothing controversial there, however, the headline caused immediate ripples in the conservative chatterings of social media. It read:

Marco Rubio Wins Coveted Role of Republican Piñata

It is understandable that some would want to chide Mother Jones for what seems to be a culturally offensive headline given the blatant display of media bias in this election cycle, but this tactic has downsides, as all identity politics do.

Imagine you are a Democratic strategist and you see this all unfolding. The finger wagging about Rubio being Cuban, not Mexican; or, the cries of hypocrisy, the accusations of racist dog whistles, and the general displeasure of your opponents. None of which would force a Democrat to stop and reevaluate the optics of the headline. Because you’re a Democrat, you are thinking of how you can hurt Republicans. It’s your job.

As a Democratic strategist, you see hypocrisy in the Republicans outrage. Why? Because the Republicans are selling outreach to all Latinos, with a Cuban-American candidate.

How do you make this work for your party, the Democrats? You tell the American Latino community, which is not exclusively Mexican, that Republicans think Latinos will be fooled into voting for Rubio because he’s Latino too. You tell voters over and over that; it is not authentic outreach to Latinos, it’s merely pandering and Republicans think Latinos are too stupid to notice. Your Democratic strategy is to flip the identity politics back in your favor.

Most complaining today are not Democratic strategists. They are conservative commentators, journalists, and activists. It is a dangerous game to try and play identity politics with Democrats. They are much better at it and have conditioned the American public to think that only they, the party of progress, truly understand identity politics. Which is somewhat true, seeing as how they have won the White House twice using identity politics.

It would probably serve conservatives well to let this one float on by and stick to the party plan of authentically reaching Latino voters. The Democrats may have used it to some success, but identity politics is a fickle beast, the biggest hole in their defensive line, and the most divisive point for their inner-party dynamics. Something the GOP does not need at this stage of the primary process.

**Editorial Credit to Andrea N Ruth