Friday, January 31, 2014

Wendy Davis appearance last night draws indignant media response

The Davis campaign seems to have itself in some hot water with the state media, after they restricted access to coverage of last night's Travis County Democratic fundraiser to the Texas Tribune, which streamed the video.  James Moore, who co-authored Bush's Brain and now serves as the executive director for the Progress Texas PAC, delivers another blow.

At a Travis County Democratic Party fundraiser the campaign banned reporters from the dining area where she was circulating with supporters and speaking to the crowd. Journalists had to watch the event on a video feed provided by one of the media outlets. Nobody gets the actual facts or the sense of an event by watching it on television instead of being present in the room. This is the kind of decision that accomplishes nothing for the campaign and only agitates journalists, who, based upon (Wayne Slater's) Morning News story (about the Davis bio discrepancies), are beginning to suspect Davis is withholding details that are relevant to the public.

If you really want to go "inside baseball", then you can read this comment stream from former newspaper reporter RG Ratcliffe's FB wall, which has several other reporters who've covered Texas politics weighing in, and if you want the story straight from the Twitter feed, then you need to follow SAEN/HC reporter David Rauf and TCDP chair Jan SoiferUpdate: And a somewhat shorter and calmer discussion started by Kimberly Reeves here.

Candidates need to talk -- especially candidates who are considered the underdog. Wendy Davis ought to be running toward reporters, not away from them. Let them interview her on any and every topic they desire and then print and broadcast and post what she says from the Coastal Bend to the Franklin Mountains and from Boca Chica Beach to Dalhart. There is no other way for her to win than to be open and forthright. A candidate lacks credibility talking about running a government in a different manner when they campaign like every other person who has wanted to be governor.

Don't exercise control; exercise honesty and complete openness. Davis has big-time money in her race now and equally large interests in seeing her succeed. Those pressures have turned her campaign, in its early stages, into an operation that looks stage-managed and carefully orchestrated, which leads to mistakes. It has been credited with making pronouncements like her "origins story is now off limits," and, in an effort to change the narrative, had the candidate start talking about gun rights and fighting a state income tax. 

The first blog on the scene was, unfortunately, PJ Media, a notably conservative outfit.  I won't bother exerpting anything from there, but they have the embedded Tweets of the exchange between Rauf and Soifer if you want the abridged version of what the dispute was about.

The job of journalism is not to provide a hallelujah choir for candidates; it is to screen that candidate, dutifully and fairly, for the public office and the trust the candidate is seeking to acquire. Yeah, I know, there are Davis supporters who will suggest fairness has been absent but I haven't seen that. Unfairness is scheduling an interview with a reporter for one newspaper and then canceling and giving it to a reporter at another paper at the same time, which was an act of the Davis campaign.

Don't do that, senator. Reschedule so both newspapers can interview you. And talk, talk to anyone and everyone who will listen to you and most especially talk to reporters who can send your point of view far and wide across the state. It's your best chance to win. And don't be managed. People are sick of managed candidates. Give voters the hard truth. That noise on a state income tax and gun rights isn't going to fire up the Democratic base and you aren't going to get anyone to come over from the other side with it, either. It will, however, make some supporters scoff, and reporters think you aren't ready for the big game.

You owe journalists nothing, of course, but if you work this right, they can help you win for the people who see hope for this state in your story. 

I can only add a similar warning to what has been said before about the Davis campaign's mistakes: they cannot afford to continue making them.  Update: You don't have to read tea leaves to understand that there are more attacks coming.  The open question remains: how will Wendy Davis and her campaign staff respond to them?

If the Republicans are allowed to shape her story, to define her in the most unflattering of ways -- and if she takes one or two weeks to respond -- then you go on and can drop the curtain.

More from the Texas Observer.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Oy, oy, oy. Whether your definition of "media" is narrow or wide, you just don't do this.

As you know about me personally, I hammer "transparency" as much as "money" in politics. And, this is a definite snafu.