A media pal emailed me to suggest (I won’t say “predict” — and he wouldn’t either) that tonight will be the beginning of a Clinton comeback.
If the situations were reversed, and it would be Obama eking out a victory after weeks of being pummeled in the press, that would certainly be the case. But, and I don’t think the readers here need me to point out that the press doesn’t cover Clinton like they cover everyone else. Her margins will have to be huge for the narrative to vary at this point — in part because of that combative relationship with the press has resulted in mostly indifferent treatment of the media, and occasionally almost abusive. Usually the pundit class covers a death rattle as a revival, just to keep the race exciting, but that campaign really can’t keep putting people in urinals and expect them to believe it’s raining.
I asked a Hillary person about how the media will cover any outcome and the staffer agreed that the press will remain skeptical of any Hillary progress. But, the staffer added, all she has to do is survive: “the environment is never going to get better than February for this guy.”
I agree that Obama is probably going to finally start to being covered like a politician and not a phenomenon. Yay! But, as I pointed out to the staffer, the environment could still get worse for Clinton: The press could get tough on Obama but get even tougher on her. The response: “hardly anyone votes in March.” Hm. We all know how well voter turn out projections have worked out this cycle…
Speaking of expertise: Obviously, journalists should try to be fair no matter where they’ve been told to sit. But the HRC “we don’t need you” attitude has turned out to be a disaster and that supposedly formidable staff she put together never tried to change it. (Perhaps, at first, when their aloofness was translated as “discipline,” they were flattered into believing their own genius and thus reluctant to concede the need to change. Who know? Failure has a lot of mothers or whatever.) What’s tragic is that I think there are a lot of voters out there who were willing to be persuaded to go for Hillary — and to have doubts about Obama — but the campaign never made those points in a way that gained traction. And you can’t place blame for that entirely on the press. On NRO’s The Corner, Mark Hemmingway made a cogent point:
It’s still amazing to me that the most effective attack on Obama thus far seems to stem from a Saturday Night Live sketch — and not something Hillary’s campaign has come up with.
Late deciding voters are in fact trending to Hillary. Red phone? (Which a lot of people wrote off as silly self-plagiarism, but might have hit a voter sweet spot…) SNL? Combination?