There are few things that news reporters love more than covering stories centered around individuals who are likely to flip out or turn the interview into an attack on the reporter himself. Why? Because the situations make for juicy, controversial and often outrageous quotes and stories that almost always go viral.
That’s why, as Tony Harden pointed out in a piece for Mail Online on Monday, despite the scathing attacks Newt Gingrich frequently launches against members of the media, he is happy to be swarmed by reporters.
Newt Gingrich hates the media, right? He unloaded on John King at the Charleston debate for raising this issue of his ex-wife’s allegations, blasting the “destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media”. In Myrtle Beach, he slapped Juan Williams down for asking a race-based question.
And the media despises Newt, right? He’s so sarcastic and condescending towards us, brands us as elite liberals and uses us to whip up the Republican base.
Actually, wrong and wrong.
Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to work in a newsroom, be it in a small town or in a large metropolitan area, understands the dynamic of the Newt/media relationship: Just about any press is good press.
When reporters have conversations with each other about sources or politicians whom they cover, they often say things like, “this guy knows how to work the press,” or “if we cut him some slack on this issue, he’ll say what we want him to about the other.” News consumers believe that they have been given the whole story, but it isn’t so; what they actually get is the product of an unspoken agreement between the reporter and the reported-on concerning how the news will be presented.
Ron Paul campaign blogger Jack Hunter noted in a recent post the dynamics of the Newt/news relationship. Hunter contends that Gingrich’s 12-point win in South Carolina was directly related to his scolding of King at a debate just two days earlier.
“Gingrich won South Carolina handily because he berated the media—which conservatives rightly see as often being in cahoots with Obama,” Hunter writes. “Gingrich won because conservatives want to challenge Obama. Conservatives don’t see this sort of fight coming from Mitt Romney.”
Hunter contends that Gingrich has a style that voters like, and he uses the news media to portray himself as a man not afraid to stand up to the media and who will do the same with Barack Obama.
But, writes Hunter, “Newt Gingrich is surly. Great. Ron Paul is substance. Newt Gingrich can yell. Fantastic. Ron Paul can go the distance.”
Noteworthy is the fact that Paul’s campaign has been largely ignored by the news media.
Hunter’s assertion that Romney does not have the same talent for berating or debating with reporters has been witnessed on a number of occasions.
Below are a few examples of the candidates’ styles of dealing with media: