I commented earlier about the success of Sen. Clinton’s effort to make life more difficult for Sen Obama by complaining vigorously about the media coverage of him–specifically their coddling of him vs. her. Crisis communicators and PR folks have long been tempted to do this in the middle of a reputation problem but it is fraught with risks. Indeed, the press didn’t take it seriously until the Saturday Night Live episode.
Now it appears that others have observed the effectiveness of her strategy. This op-ed piece in the New York Times today builds a case for the media enchantment with Sen. McCain. Like discussed before, observing political coverage is like relativity theory in action and your or my agreement or disagreement with Neal Gabler’s assessment of media coverage of McCain will likely reveal our own biases more clearly than his (although his seems obvious–but then that reveals mine, right?) The point is this: when a successful strategy is identified and it is quickly copied. I predict a rough ride for the media in this election with continual claims of media bias and unfair coverage as a core campaign strategy. The lesson for PR folks and crisis communicators seems increasingly clear. It is now more acceptable than ever to challenge media coverage when you are under attack. Make sure you have solid basis. And remember, that how the readers or viewers react depends more on their existing biases and perspectives than it does on the coverage or the attack on the coverage. Tricky stuff.