Preaching to the choir


Washington Post media watchdog Howard Kurtz has published some observations on the candidates’ television habits in the early going of what is being routinely described as the earliest presidential campaign in history. He wasn’t talking about what they are watching, but rather where they are going. And to a large extent, they are either barely making themselves available at all, or they are staying within their ideological comfort zone. One major fulcrum is Fox News Channel, visited frequently by most Republican candidates. Many Democrats not only refuse to appear on the cable news net, they blast the channel as a regular part of their campaigning. Kurtz notes that the reputed front-runners in each party, Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) are largely staying away from the prolonged question-and-answer sessions featured on the Sunday morning gabfests, while those in the second tier are more likely to take advantage of the exposure. The gadfly candidates, notably Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) are a third category, and are seemingly willing to go anywhere, any time to make their case.

RBR observation: There has been much speculation that candidates only hurt themselves when they preach to the choir and avoid contact with those on the other side of the ideological fence. On the other hand, if a certain media outlet is solidly blue or red, there really may not be all that much value in expending resources, even if it’s nothing more than time and energy, courting that constituency, just like you wouldn’t sell acne cream on a Nostalgia radio station. Kurtz notes that avoiding potentially hostile questioners "deprives them of the chance to develop their reflexes by swinging at fastballs," and there may well be something to that. One thing is for sure – candidates can play to the base in comfortable territory for now, but in the end, any candidate who intends to have any chance of winning will have to deal with all major media outlets.