Politics

Prepping the Media Battlefield: Part 3

MoveOn.org has Hillary Clinton and the New York Times cornered. They won’t escape: she, because Sen. Clinton has to maintain her allegiance to the hardcore left; the Times because it doesn’t want to.

But because MoveOn’s “Petraeus/Betray Us” ad was so despicable, and so outraged Americans, Clinton has had to retreat from her plan to shape the media battlefield for the 2008 election.

Months ago, I wrote that the Democrats were counting on their ability to isolate Fox News and talk radio to gain control of the information that American voters would be able to hear, read and see in the 2008 campaign. By appearing on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Clinton recognized that, because of the MoveOn ad, their shaping of the media battlefield for next year has suffered a huge setback.

A year earlier, husband Bill appeared with Wallace. In an exercise in faux-spontaneity, (which nevertheless was a brilliant political move) Former President Clinton attacked Wallace and Fox News, pretending to have been victimized by Wallace’s questions. This gave Democrats an open-season on Fox, culminating in a months-long boycott of Fox by their presidential aspirants. Sen. Clinton’s half-hearted attempt to create the quivering upper lip victim status her husband has perfected failed. All she could do was say anyone who’d been in her shoes would understand.

In answer to Chris Wallace’s question if she would repudiate the MoveOn “Betray Us” ad, Sen. Clinton ducked. She said the debate shouldn’t be about an ad, but about the war. Later that morning on Meet the Press (during a seemingly endless “All Hillary” day on the major talk shows) Clinton repeated the same “duck and cover.” When Tim Russert asked her if she wished MoveOn hadn’t run the ad, she could only repeat the “this shouldn’t be about an ad” waffle, and did say she didn’t believe Gen. David Petraeus betrayed the American people.

Clinton is cornered: She voted against the Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) amendment specifically stating that Gen. Petraeus is a man of integrity and deserves the support of the American people. She’s running from the MoveOn ad, but won’t directly condemn what MoveOn did. She’s terrified of MoveOn.

The next MoveOn ad — and there will be more, of equal venom and untruths — will be another Slippary will have to slide away from. But both MoveOn and the Times are terrified too. Of conservative reaction which — thanks to Sen. Cornyn — has so far been highly effective.

The MoveOn ad — and the uncharacteristically skilled and effective Republican response to it — damaged Clinton and the New York Times which is, behind only MoveOn.org, the Dems’ second-most implacable and relentless supporter. The severity of the damage is proved by Clinton’s retreat. And by the New York Times continuing melt down.

As Jerry Bowyer will write in HUMAN EVENTS tomorrow, the NYT is a shareholders’ nightmare. From its high of about $53 in 2002, its share price fell to $19.13 on September 17, closing Friday at $19.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained about 60% in value since 2002, and NYT has fallen an equal amount in the same period: a 120% difference.

Yes, other media outlets have also lost value, but none as much as the Times which — in a very unusual letter to its readers September 22 — admitted the MoveOn ad violated the Times own standards and got a huge price break that MoveOn wasn’t entitled to.

Public Editor Clark Hoyt wrote:

"MoveOn.org paid what is known in the newspaper industry as a standby rate of $64,575 that it should not have received under Times policies. The group should have paid $142,083. The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake."

A mistake or a reflection of the Times’ ideology? You can bet that the National Rifle Association wouldn’t have benefited from any such mistake. Hoyt also wrote:

"…the ad appears to fly in the face of an internal advertising acceptability manual that says, “We do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” Steph Jespersen, the executive who approved the ad, said that, while it was “rough,” he regarded it as a comment on a public official’s management of his office and therefore acceptable speech for The Times to print."

Jespersen would have us believe that he would have approved an equally “rough” ad by a conservative group headlined “She’s their girl” above a picture of Hillary and the MoveOn.org logo. She voted against the Cornyn resolution, so it’s about her performance in office. But Jespersen is spouting nonsense. He knows NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger would disapprove.

The NYT is suffering because it’s not in the news business: it’s a politically-activist paper. Sulzberger, asked about the MoveOn ad by Hoyt, said the Times might have erred but, “If we’re going to err, it’s better to err on the side of more political dialogue. … Perhaps we did err in this case. If we did, we erred with the intent of giving greater voice to people.”

Double nonsense. Sulzberger and his unaccountably un-rebellious shareholders know very well the Times doesn’t give greater voice to any people who aren’t of the hyperliberal persuasion. More MoveOn.org ads will be run in the Times, as bad or worse than the infamous “BetrayUs” ad.

The media battlefield for 2008 is still being shaped. As the reaction to the MoveOn ad and Hillary’s appearance on Fox proves, Republicans still have the ability to prepare the airwaves and print media to receive their candidate next year. But they can’t stop with the Cornyn amendment. Where are the print ads? Where are the television commercials exposing the politically-activist media?

The MoveOn.org leaders aren’t backing down. Their website features a new petition asking people to sign up to the statement, “I will not be quiet, I will fight back, and I will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war." Will the Republican candidates and the RNC move to the offensive? Or will they resume the defensive? Carpe diem, gents.


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