2010’s Losing Strategy: Attacking The Media

2010 was supposed to be the year that attacking the media – if not ignoring it altogether – was the winning media strategy.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Tuesday’s election results are a vindication for those media strategists who have long argued that maintaining positive press relations is still the best path to electoral success. Of the six candidates who ran the most aggressively anti-media campaigns, at least three lost (another is trailing, but undecided, as of this writing).

That’s not to say that an anti-media campaign strategy can’t work. It can, and it did for a handful of candidates. But the high-wire tactic tends to be horribly overused, unnecessarily crippling otherwise viable candidates.

Below is a summary of the anti-media winners and losers.


Sharron Angle (R-NV): Nevada’s GOP Senate candidate aggressively avoided the mainstream press, brazenly admitting she only wanted to go on conservative programs that helped her raise money. In one highly-publicized incident caught on video, she bolted when the press approached her. In another, she “shushed” a reporter who tried to ask a question. Toward the end of the campaign, Ms. Angle said she would talk to the press after she was elected – but not before. She was defeated by incumbent Harry Reid.

Christine O’Donnell (R-DE): Shortly after winning her primary, Ms. O’Donnell canceled her scheduled appearances on Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation, earning the ire of both hosts. According to a story last month in Politico, Ms. O’Donnell, “…has been nearly impossible to track down in Delaware since winning her primary.” Late last month, she threatened to a radio station with a lawsuit if it released a video of her interview with the station. She was soundly defeated by opponent Chris Coons.

Carl Paladino (R-NY): New York’s Republican candidate was the only one to threaten to kill a reporter. In a particularly nasty confrontation, he told a New York Post reporter, “I’ll take you out.” Late last week, he walked off a live interview with a local New York television.


Joe Miller (R-AK): Sarah Palin’s hand-picked Tea Party favorite for Senate abruptly announced last month he would no longer take questions from the media about his background. But the low point in his campaign came when Miller’s private security guards handcuffed the founder of the Alaska Dispatch after he asked the candidate a question.


Ron Johnson (R-WI): Wisconsin’s GOP Senate candidate was lambasted by his hometown paper – Oshkosh’s The Northwestern – which said, “Johnson’s campaign has been careful to keep him under tight wraps, limiting his availability, not releasing his schedule until the last moment…voters are not being allowed to see beyond the plastic packaging of Ron Johnson.” The strategy worked, as Mr. Johnson defeated incumbent Russ Feingold.

Rand Paul (R-KY): Right after winning Kentucky’s GOP primary, Rand Paul canceled a scheduled appearance on Meet The Press, becoming the first American politician to cancel in the show’s 62-year history.  As noted by Politico, Mr. Paul, “often hurries to his car” to avoid reporters. The strategy worked, as he defeated his Democratic opponent.

Click Here to see the five worst video media disasters of October.