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I don't know who said it first, or best, but I know its true that if the public perceives there to be a problem, then there IS a problem.

I'd like to discuss the Obama Campaign's response to the recent blitzkrieg of immature, inflamatory and downright racist attacks that our candidate has been subjected to and the media coverage thereof.  I'd like to do this without the now predictable response from DKosers that basically amounts to, "Stop worrying, be quiet, give money and everything will be fine in the end."  I'll pre-empt that by saying that I am not hyperventilating, nor am I unaware of all the polls and how Obama is ahead by wide margins in most areas, nosing out McCain on most others, and that the national trend polls reporting a "tie" have been looking awfully suspicious lately.  

But it cannot be missed that the Obama camp does not have control of the national media narratives, in fact is doing piss-poor at getting his messages out.  

Call this a "generally frustrated" diary.

That, in essence, is my complaint with how things are being run.  I may not be qualified to render judgment about various strategies, but I can see the results.  Obama, while not loosing the media war, is losing some battles of perception and struggling mightily with attacks that are utterly meritless.  Why is Obama on the defensive and why isn't he attacking more effectively?

I'm referring to what's being discussed by national media wags; TV News, talkshows, magazines and major newspapers.  I don't like them any more than any other informed citizen, but they are too influential to ignore, and it seems like Obama is ignoring them.  They announce the standards by which candidates will be judged, judge them and keep score as well.  Left to their own devices they will ONLY spit out pro-Republican spin; we all know this.  Their description about what's important, what matters, heck, even what HAPPENED becomes the reality for millions of Americans.  This can be attacked at the grass-roots level, but that's damage control and is no way to win an election.

The national media have been running anti-Obama almost completely unchecked for months.  It is clear that Obama's team has no effective strategy for dealing with them.  How did nearly EVERY national media turn Obama's trip to the Mideast and Europe to a referendum on whether Obama was "Presumptuous" or not?  Why didn't the Obama Camp have their OWN meme in the laps of the media when the promotion was over?  Why weren't ALL the pundits HAMMERING McCain on his dishonest, scurrilous ad about the canceled troop visit?  How could Obama's team allow that to happen without a pushback that is at least as loud and attention getting?  

The media narrative should have been about Obama's success overseas and McCain's desperation in trying to deal with it.  Team Obama's grade for completing the assignment: F+.

What we've learned from previous elections is that one has to get in the face of your rivals when they smear you, and counter attack their attacks at every turn.  This is not happening.  Even a peasant such as I can see that McCain has the media eating out of his hand.

McCain has been fumbling facts and distorting his record and Obama's.  A lie exposed is a great weapon against the liar.  People, especially undecideds, hate liars.  Having a short memory or constantly mis-stating facts does not make one look much better; you're either senile or willing to say anything that suits the moment.  Was there any attempt to push back on McCain's lies?  McCain's comments on the Iraqi withdrawal timeline ("I never said timelines!"), Obama's canceled troop visit, and McCain's memory of his own history on civil rights legislation have provided us with juicy factual errors to attack with.  Outside of the netroots, few people have done so.  

McCain's flip-flops on immigration and on offshore oil-drilling have provided us with prime examples of crass pandering for millions of dollars in donations.  Why isn't that story on the network news?  McCain criticized Obama for his "Not like other faces on the dollar bill" remark as racist, yet did anyone (outside the internet) point out that it was the McCain camp that actually did put Obama's face on a mock piece of currency as part of their own smears?

All of these and more are clubs to attack McCain with, yet they were just left lying there.  Is there some kind of fear of being offensive in the Obama campaign?  Will you take this bit of reassurance?: In no way does attacking McCain with his own gaffes constitute a "low road" in politics.  I get the impression that not only does Obama not want to acknowledge McCain's attacks, he also does not want to do any attacking himself.  Note to Team Obama: Being "offensive" to McCain is NOT the same as simply being offensive.  Voters will LIKE it if you fight for your beliefs and your reputation - even a fair fight, if you insist.

I see McCain's face every day in the news, talking directly with reporters and giving interviews to major networks.  He's nuancing his spin, uttering lies that are accepted uncritically because no one is telling the news that they are lies.  Why isn't Obama giving interviews?  If he is, why aren't they on the air?

Or perhaps it's just that the Obama campaign is doing a shitty job of managing the national mass-market media.  I'm talking about national network news, local market broadcast news, magazines and major newspapers.  It is no excuse that "All the mainstream media is conspiring against us."  The Media we gots is the Media we gots.  It's the job of the campaign to deal with it.

They MUST get their message in there, out on the airwaves and in print.  It's not enough that supporters know Obama's position, nor is it enough to make his responses available.  It's not enough that we on the internet have a field day with McCain's foibles; that almost gives the Traditional Media an excuse to NOT go with it, in their minds.  The Obama message must be crammed down the throat of the media so that they HAVE to go with it.

No, I am not advocating a particular message to push, nor even a particular strategy.  I am complaining about the ABSENCE of a strategy.  "Don't worry about it!" is NOT a strategy.  This arena, national media, it seems to humble me, must not be neglected.  At least half of network news time on the race should be taken up with Obama's messages, or there is a failure here.

It's not enough that the netroots has your back, Camp Obama.  It's not enough to gather supporters, to register voters, or to give your message to the people in your events and speeches.  The soundbites, the whole damn message, must make it into the national discourse.  

I'm not saying that's the only place to attack; that would be a mistake of Clintonian proportions.  But it must not be neglected completely.  I wouldn't expect everything to go Obama's way in this arena.  I just want to see Barack Obama put up a fight on national news stories!  Make his case so clearly, loudly and frequently that our enemies have to at least acknowledge it before they attack it.

Just so I'm clear about this: I'm not saying that McCain's side is winning, I'm only stating the obvious; Obama's camp is not managing their mainstream media messaging very well at all.  No one can say that Obama has responded perfectly, or even well to the media war.  I don't think I'm alone in thinking that a strong offense from Obama in the national media is overdue.

Team Obama, please respond!  Get out there and start fighting!  Be offensive, inclusive, creative - any kind of response will do!  Just please do something with the national media.

[I realize it takes a lot of chutzpah to critique a candidates' campaign strategy.  After all, I am not educated or experienced in such things. I hestitated to post my concerns, knowing that there will be those who will attack me for trying to talk smack about stuff I have no business addressing.  But I am experienced in what I see and hear on TV, and how the message is coming across.  Upon this I base my critique.]

NOTE:  In the hours since I stared writing this, Obama has come out with a new ad, more along the lines of what I was talking about.  Here's Obama slamming McCain on Big Oil contributions:

Thats a GREAT attack!  Will someone now PLEASE take it to the networks and make them talk about it?  

EXTRA NOTE about the POLL below:  I should have included the time frame, "Withing the past two weeks."  Its not scientific to change a poll wording after its begun, but its a better poll with that time frame.

Originally posted to Hjiorst on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 10:56 AM PDT.


The Obama Campaign has been handling the national media:

10%5 votes
18%9 votes
16%8 votes
10%5 votes
26%13 votes
2%1 votes
10%5 votes
6%3 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for sayin' what i think. n/t (3+ / 0-)
  •  And you don't thing blind panic... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vicky, lgmcp, kat68, mdmslle, Adept2u

    plays into perceptions?

    Obama is doing something.  I'm sorry if it isn't what you and so many others want him to do, but he and his surrogates have responded--like adults--and not like slobbering fools.

    Try as you might, you cannot spell HOPE with the letters GOP.

    by David Kroning on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 10:59:58 AM PDT

  •  Good lord man! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Feanor, Vicky, mdmslle, David Kroning, publicv

    If you knew the reaction why are you looking for it.  Oh well here it goes.  Obama will crush McCain and knows exactly what he is doing.  He has anticipated negative attacks and the media's reactions both positive and negative.  He is our coach.  We are his team.  The game is on, and there is no benefit from doubting our leader of his strategy it's just to late.  What we need to do is devote our attention to advancing the ball and not second guessing the coach.

    Justice for Lavena Johnson

    by Adept2u on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:04:17 AM PDT

  •  who is perceiving (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, kat68, Adept2u, David Kroning

    the like of US? who hang on in the blogosphere and have followed every poll, every interview, every step and misstep since Iowa?

    Or that lady with three kids who works 40 hours a week at the hospital and weekend nights at CVS to be able to afford food AND gas?

    Because they are not the same. I submit that lady is not paying ANY attention right now...and might not pay attention at all save for people like ME who knock on her door on Saturday morning asking her if she's registered to vote and giving her a flyer about how Obama will help make her life a little easier.

    Give Em Hell!! OBAMA 08

    by mdmslle on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:04:36 AM PDT

    •  Now that's what I'm talking about!!! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, mdmslle, David Kroning

      I prescribe 1 hour of positive elect dems labor for every negative thought.  If we loose then at least you can wear a T-shirt saying I did all I could do.

      Justice for Lavena Johnson

      by Adept2u on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:06:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you suggesting that Republican media attacks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      don't have any effect?  That no one pays attention at all, and it affects no one?

      •  no I'm suggesting that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        what YOU wtach is differnt than what most of eth rest of undecideds are doing right now.

        I can speak authoritatively here having BEEN one of those types. I am a registered indie and have voted 4 times in my life. Two for Republicans and two for democrats.

        I NEVER watched MSNBC, CNN or any other news analysis show. BTW I'm college degreed and own my own successful business, so i'm no dim wit.

        What I am suggesting to you is that your perceptions are erroneous, in a way. YES perceptions do effect thinsg but only when they are being perceived by the people you imagine are being effected.

        I am suggesting that the vast majority of undecideds are not paying attention right now and therefore, whatever perceptions are floating around are not being noticed by them.

        The 88-89% of people showing up in poll numbers are not the voters we now need. Those voters are the committed - whether for McCain or Obama.

        Its the other 10-12% that will not be watching until, frankl, the debates.

        They do not watch news analysis shows. They watch the local news, MAYBE the evening news and them switch to Wheel of Fortune, not Hardball. In the morning they sometimes can catch a few minutes of Good Morning America or Today if they don't have to drive the kids to school or be to work before 8:30.

        I'm suggesting that Obama and his team know precisely who they are trying to reach at his point and where they are and what they are doing (People Magazine anyone? Hollywood Insider anyone?) I am suggesting that their plan is precise, not scattered . Disciplined based on knowledge. An dthat they will make their impressions when people are watching.

        That's what I'm suggesting.

        Give Em Hell!! OBAMA 08

        by mdmslle on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:20:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I hope you're right (0+ / 0-)

          But I won't agree that the national media meme battle should be neglected.

          I don't advocate giving up in one arena just because one is leading in another.  That is one of my main complaints, in fact.  The battle should be waged on all fronts, and this is an important one.

          A better national media meme trend would help all downticket races.

  •  It's nice that Obama and the Dems (0+ / 0-)

    want to run a "positive" campaign. But the gloves are off on the GOP side, so they gotta come off on our side, too. If they make race an issue, we make age an issue. If they talk about inflating tires, we show a 30-second ad of nothing but McCain literally embracing Bush.

    et cetera

    et cetera

    •  and if we do that they win (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Because they will be able to take us off message and then it becomes a pissing match.

      Listen, the Obama team responds to what needs to be responded to such as the "Troops" charge and the "oil Drilling" tactic. Responding to every smear only draws us off message and frankly lets out opponent know we can be dragged away into nothingness.

      The only thing they have is smear. Issues they are dead meat. Bottom line, he will return the smears that matter and will ignore those that don't.

      You forget that after the convention, we will have surrogates in every region. Powerful star-power, media power surrogates. Hillary in OH PA MI, Bill in the heartland, Richardson in the SW, Edwards in the south. Biden, Dodd, Kerry, Hagel, Webb, Warner.

      WTF are you thinking?

      Obama will do his thing. They will do theirs. We will do ours. Then we get the debates. (did you forget?)

      Come on, guy. Learn to fight right.

      Give Em Hell!! OBAMA 08

      by mdmslle on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:26:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think Obama is like a lion waiting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vicky, mdmslle, David Kroning

    until the prey thinks they're safe.  You should calm down.... you'll be in the hospital by the end of the month if you keep this up!

    •  Are you a concern troll? (0+ / 0-)

      Seriously.  Are you?  

      Its nice to tell ourselves reassuring things like so many nursery rhymes that sooth us.  But what good does that do?  Does saying nothing help anyone?

      Like I said in my diary, I am not critiquing other efforts, I am focusing on the national narrative and the national media. Obama's team has been loosing that platform.

      Pretending that he's not, or dismissing its importance will not help.

      •  There's widespread belief that positive thinking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is mandatory for loyal supporters.  And yes, it IS somewhat harder to work for change without truly expecting or anticipating it.  Yet for those of us who are natural-born pessimists, that's how it has to be.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:22:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ad-hominem? (0+ / 0-)

          I see, I am not working for change, I am just a natural-born pessimist.  Thats why my arguments should be ignored?

          Positive thinking is nice, but I won't be a lemming.  Positive thinking won't fix your car, won't stop global warming, and won't win an election.

          It is the attitude one must have to win, but it does not dictate actions.  If you see a problem, address it!  

          What I see in all the concern trolling on this topic is a whole lot of people suggesting that the national media meme battle is lost, with no points to be gained by going after it.


  •  I agree there's been a certain lag in the recent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kroning

    media exchanges, but hope that this is the most transient of blips.  They ran a tight campaign in the primary, and surely are about to regroup.
    I had a hard time voting in your poll because I would vote higher or lower depending on the time-frame of reference you are asking about.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:12:26 AM PDT

  •  A lot of "the sky is falling" diaries today n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "When the powerful say that the price was worth the blood and treasure, you can bet your ass it wasn't their blood, nor their treasure."

    by sceptical observer on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:12:32 AM PDT

    •  Really? Where? (0+ / 0-)

      Or do you have no substantive reply to my points?

      My title says my main point.  And the public is perceiving a problem.  That makes it worth dealing with.

      •  I would point out however that your poll is (0+ / 0-)

        self-selecting in the way that most online polls are -- mostly folks sympathetic to the idea that there is a media problem will gravitate towards this diary, and hence have a chance to vote.  Yes, a few will show up expressly to refute that view. But since you have expressed your argument with moderation and rationalism, you won't atttract the troll-bashing fervor that generates hundreds of commentators just to disagree.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:25:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i did but you didnt say anything about my point. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm beginning to wonder about you too. i posted a very reasoned response to your question about whether i was suggestion that perception didnt matter at all...

        Give Em Hell!! OBAMA 08

        by mdmslle on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:29:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  holy shit... (0+ / 0-)

        All you have to do is scroll through the diary list.

        Yours is only, like, the 20th or 30th I've seen today (and as a Left Coaster, I'm sure I missed a lot before I checked in).

        The way to win is not to move to the right wing; the way to win is to move to the right policy. -- Nameless Soldier

        by N in Seattle on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:43:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "but I can see the results" (0+ / 0-)

        exactly what results are you talking about? I don't see them.
        I see Obama ahead in every poll including that idiotic Gallup daily tracking poll.
        Basic rule of campaigning; if you're ahead take the high road, if you're losing attack and drive down your opponents poll numbers.
        All that I see are lots of "the sky is falling" diaries about what Obama should be doing, as if they could run a campaign any better than this gem that Obama is showing us.
        The Republicans would love for Obama to go negative so they can say, "See he's just another asshole politician like the rest of us."
        Until his poll numbers slip dramatically I think I'll just trust the new guy. He seems to be doing okay.

        "When the powerful say that the price was worth the blood and treasure, you can bet your ass it wasn't their blood, nor their treasure."

        by sceptical observer on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:44:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like I said, I read the polls, (0+ / 0-)

          the results I'm referring to is the quality and content of news items on national news media.  They are carrying McCain's story and not Obama's, generally.

          call me foolish, but I don't think that this is the reason for Obama's winning poll numbers.

          Why ignore a problem?  Will pretending its not there help?

          Obama's numbers should be through the roof.  They're not.  Thats the results I see.

          •  If the MSM drove the agenda Obama would be behind (0+ / 0-)

            but people aren't as stupid as the MSM would have us believe. In past years a lot of people weren't
            tuned in because it didn't effect them personally or they didn't think their vote would count.
            Today everywhere that I go people are talking about this election.
            Bush has galvanized this electorate and there are no happy campers anymore. They get pissed every time they fill up or think about falling home prices. They worry about buying safe lead-free toys for their grandkids and whether the dog food they feed their beloved pooch is going to kill them.
            The MSM can't snow these people anymore. All is not well and they are not going to elect someone from the same party that created this mess.  

            "When the powerful say that the price was worth the blood and treasure, you can bet your ass it wasn't their blood, nor their treasure."

            by sceptical observer on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 12:14:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This goes back to the primaries too! They (0+ / 0-)

    let the Clinton campaign contorl the narrative on a daily basis. Granted, we won the nomination, but it showed a serious crack in the campaign that evidently has still not been corrected. I hear everyone say it doesn't matter, but when you see the McBush narrative played out 24/7, and it starts to get onto Leno and Letterman, you have a problem. Surely, there are Dem media experts available to help shore up the Obama Team.

    •  Disagree, I think that the primary campaign (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      showed an interesting success for 'taking the high road'.  Clinton got a lot of press for unpleasant innuendo, but Obama came out smelling like a rose.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:17:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  His momentum also stopped (0+ / 0-)

        as soon as the Clinton attacks began.  He won the primary on the strength of everything he did BEFORE the negative attacks started.  Had she done it from the beginning, Obama would not have won.

        •  Hmmmm (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Not so sure about that.  A steady flow of delegates from beginning to end is more like what I observed.  And Clinton's campaign style, while it crescendoed in volume near the end, did not differ in kind from its early incarnation.

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:27:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The delegates kept coming in, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but the regular voters just stayed the same, or shifted away slightly.  I'm concerned about voters, especially that most ignorant, stupid and fickle, the Undecided Voter.

            They are VERY susceptible to national media influence.

            •  I'm concerned about them too. (0+ / 0-)

              If they were dumb enough to vote for W a SECOND time, they can commit almost any idiocy.

              "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

              by lgmcp on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 11:32:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  An unstated premise in this diary, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, publicv

    it seems to me, is the idea that the media is something resembling the fair, free, impartial press, that our Founders envisioned.

    It's not. It's a tool of the corporatacracy - the new opiate of the masses - actively working for McCain - and as such, it can't be 'managed'.

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