One of the Republican Party’s favorite tropes is that “the media” — by which it means all those outlets that are not Fox News and its fellow philosophical travelers — are in the tank for Hillary Clinton, and constitute a secret cabal pledged to promote her candidacy for president. Reince Priebus, the party chairman, has threatened to deny NBC and CNN access to the 2016 Republican primaries if they air planned specials about the former First Lady, U.S Senator and Secretary of State.
As a media operative with several decades of experience, I can say with certitude that they are wrong. We are far too cynical a bunch to be “in the tank” for anyone. What we love is a sexy story that grabs eyeballs.
Hillary is a subject that most people, particularly women, can’t seem to get enough of. As with anchovies, you either love her or hate her, but few are indifferent to her. That makes for the most compelling of topics, since everyone is going to be interested, one way or another.
If Republicans want to replicate the kind of collective swoon that lies in store for a Hillary candidacy, they need to find somebody exciting — somebody with an equally checkered history — to be their standard-bearer. It’s hard to match an imperious, driven woman who was humiliated by her husband right in the Oval Office, who is rumored to have thrown table lamps at her spouse, who somehow made her peace with him and then rose to prominence in her own right. Even if you believe she really ordered a hit on Vince Foster, you’re going to want to know more about her.
In contrast, let’s look at the last candidate the Republicans fielded: Mitt Romney, who barely raised anyone’s pulse. He finally created some buzz over his 47-percent comment, but unfortunately it was the wrong kind.
Of course the media are going to run specials about Hillary; she’s ratings gold, as her campaign is sure to be. And all the wonderful old stuff will come out: the salacious tidbits about Bill, the Whitewater scandal, Rose Law Firm, Travelgate, everything. There’s a whole new generation of voters to introduce to the sordid details of the Clinton saga, and nothing will be spared.
Priebus and his party would do well to stop complaining. Unfortunately, Republicans have come to believe their own party line about the liberal media conspiracy. They should realize that all we really want is attention.
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