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John F. Kennedy campaigning 1960

John F. Kennedy i september 1960 under en valturné i New York.

Bild: Paul Schutzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

1987 års valspecial från Spitting Image.

Le Parisien by Phili - Pierre Grach 1898-1987

Bild: Le Parisien av Phili (Pierre Grach, 1898 – 1987). Reklamen från 1940-talet.

USA | Hur bra är egentligen Hillary Clinton i en valrörelse? Det är en av frågorna som Jason Zengerle ställer sig i tidskriften New York.

New York April 6-19 2015

Ett av hennes stora problem är relationerna till presskåren. Hon har svårt för intervjuer, presskonferenser och andra offentliga framträdanden som kräver ett visst mått av spontanitet (äkta eller inövad).

Risken är att ju mer hon försöker distansera sig från journalister desto större är risken att de kommer att fokusera på småsaker som kan ge just den negativ bild av henne som hennes rådgivare försöker undvika.

Hennes rådgivare är väl medvetna om problemet. Frågan är om Clinton också är det. Och om hon orkar vara tillmötesgående under en lång och tuff valrörelse.

Zengerle skriver:

The danger to the Clinton campaign, at this early stage, is not that she might slip in a debate or never quite muster an adequate explanation for deleting emails as secretary of State. It’s that she might not have the ability to break through the cynicism and noise of our political circus and deliver a striking, clear message.

[…]

It’s almost impossible to overstate just how much Clinton hates the press. She doesn’t trust it, avoids it at all costs, assumes the worst intentions, and generally wishes it would just go away. Her contempt for the people who cover her was on full display in her press conference last month — as was their contempt for her. It’s a poisonous relationship with multiple levels of dysfunction on both sides. Unfortunately for Clinton, she’s the one who bears the brunt of the fallout.

Some Clinton allies are encouraged by the relationship she forged with the State Department press corps during her four years in the Cabinet. The paranoia and outright hostility that permeated her interactions with reporters during the 2008 campaign were replaced by collegiality and openness as she traveled the world. Then again, that experience isn’t exactly good practice for tooling around the Midwest with campaign reporters in tow. “When she’s on a plane with Mark Landler and Reuters and a bunch of nerds asking her about Burma and policy issues, she knows those issues inside out and she knows the trip wires and how to navigate issues that in reality are really dicey. She’s in her element,” says Tommy Vietor. “But out on the campaign trail, she’s going to be getting open-ended questions about her feelings and God knows what else, stuff that’s comparatively unimportant but where there’s no good or necessarily right answers, and that’s just hard.”

Not that Clinton isn’t trying. She’s recently hired a slew of press aides who — unlike many of those on whom she’s relied in the past — don’t loathe, and maybe even like, the reporters who cover her. She’s also taken her own halting steps toward turning on the charm with campaign reporters. Two weeks ago, she gave the keynote address at a political-journalism-awards dinner in Washington. The speech was well received. (She announced that she wanted a “new beginning” with reporters, which they were welcome to as soon as they signed the nondisclosure agreement tucked under their seats.) But it was what happened after her speech that struck many people as new and different: Clinton stuck around and schmoozed. “That’s something Hillary 2008 didn’t do,” says a Democratic strategist close to Clinton’s team. “Back then, she’d give the speech and peace out, especially in a roomful of journalists.” A Clinton adviser adds, “We want to create more forums like that. It’s important to connect with real people, but it’s important to connect with the press, too.”

[…]

The Republican strategist Stuart Stevens likens political skill to figure skating: “It’s an endeavor entirely judged by a jury with no empirical metrics.” Alienating the jury is a dangerous thing. “I am in the Bill Clinton camp on this,” Stevens says. “For multiple reasons, Obama has been judged differently by the jury than Hillary.”

In small ways, Clinton could repair the relationship. Most important, the same charm offensive she waged on the Obama White House could work on the press pack, too. But it’ll need to be an effort sustained not only in Washington but also in the dog days of Virginia and Colorado, Ohio and Florida.

If she can’t, that will only encourage reporters to cover her critically — maybe even, as Clinton and her allies suspect, more critically than they do other politicians — which in turn could be enough to tip the race in favor of her opponent. “To the extent that the news media wants to dissect her, that could affect perceptions of her if that kind of criticism is a sustained feature of news coverage,” says [George Washington University political scientist John] Sides. He points to Al Gore’s experience in 2000, when the press’s repeated hyping of a series of small misstatements and minor exaggerations by Gore increasingly led voters, even Democrats, to conclude that he was untrustworthy. “Can we say that had Gore been perceived as honest in October, as he was in July, that that would have given him the race?” asks Sides. “Not necessarily. But it could have.”

The question confronting Clinton now is not so much whether she can withstand the scrutiny but the degree of the scrutiny itself. Are we so fixated on diagnosing and dissecting her weaknesses, on scouting all the ways in which she isn’t a particularly gifted political athlete, that the effort becomes, in a sense, self-fulfilling? “The dissections can be more influential than the actual objective features and qualities of the candidate herself,” says Sides. In the end, the strength Clinton will need most, and on which the fate of her campaign may rest, will be her ability to make us stop dwelling on her weaknesses.

Läs mer: Hillary Clinton’s Surprisingly Effective Campaign” av Peter Beinart i The Atlantic och What Hillary Clinton’s tough take on secretary of state could mean for her presidency” av Nina Burleigh i Newsweek, samt “The Platonic Ideal of Horse Race Journalism” av Hamilton Nolan på Gawker.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 6-19 april 2015.

USA | Oavsett vem som hamnar i Vita Huset efter presidentvalet kommer Roger Ailes och Fox News vinna på det.

The New York Times Magazine - January 25 2015

Ailes, som en gång i tiden var en av Richard Nixons rådgivare, har fortfarande en hel del att lära politikerna i Republican Party.

Jim Rutenberg skriver så här om honom i The New York Times Magazine:

Ailes has long argued that Americans alienated by the sensibilities of the “New York-Hollywood elitists” are a valuable demographic, and the past two decades have proved him right. He started Fox News in 1996, led it to first place in the cable-news ratings in 2002 and has widened his lead ever since. At the point it surpassed CNN, Fox News had an average prime-time audience of 1.2 million, while CNN’s was 900,000 and MSNBC’s was around 400,000. By the end of 2012 — a presidential-election year, with higher-than-typical news viewership — its prime-time audience of more than two million was the third-biggest in all of basic cable and larger than those of MSNBC (905,000) and CNN (677,000) combined. By last year, its share of that news pie had climbed to 61 percent, and it had moved to second place in the prime-time rankings for all of basic cable, behind ESPN.

This has given Ailes consistent bragging rights, no small matter for a man whose braggadocio is television legend. (When Paula Zahn departed Fox News for CNN in 2001, he said he could beat her ratings with “a dead raccoon.”) But it has also given him something more impressive: ever-increasing profits. During a 10-year span, Fox News’s profits grew sixfold to $1.2 billion in 2014, on total operating revenue of $2 billion, according to the financial analysis firm SNL Kagan. By contrast, those of CNN and MSNBC have leveled off over the past few years, with the occasional small dip or spike.

[…]

And yet, for a network that wants to grow in both viewers and dollars, Ailes’s favored demographic has begun to pose something of a constraint. In an online survey, the Pew Research Center has found that 84 percent of those whom it identified as “consistently conservative” already watched Fox News. Moreover, though Fox News regularly wins in the demographic that matters most to advertisers — those viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — it has the oldest audience in cable news, a fact that its detractors are quick to point out. How many more of Ailes’s “average Americans” are there who are not already tuned into Fox News on a regular basis?

The Pew Research Center data, though, also suggests an area where expansion is still possible: 37 percent of the Fox News audience holds views that Pew calls ideologically “mixed.” (This means their survey responses on specific political questions cut across ideological lines: For example, they support same-sex marriage but oppose new restrictions on gun ownership.) Similarly, a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found that about 38 percent of all Americans identify themselves as “independent,” and 34 percent of those independents identify themselves as conservative. A little more than half of that subgroup cite Fox as their “most trusted” news source. The rest are what Robert P. Jones, the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, identified as “a growth margin” for the network; they could be what the poll identified as “Fox News Independents,” but they don’t know it yet. Unlike the more hard-core “Fox News Republicans,” these independents are less likely to call themselves members of the Tea Party, are more open to allowing the children of illegal immigrants to stay here legally and slightly more approving of the president’s job performance (15 percent for Fox News Independents, as opposed to 5 percent for Fox News Republicans).

How does Ailes maintain the aging conservative base that has allowed him to control the present while at the same time drawing in younger and independent viewers that will allow him to grow and control the future? Fox News, in this way, is confronted by the same problem the Republican Party faces, and Ailes appears to be solving his problem the way anyone hoping to build a winning national coalition must: by emphasizing personality.

When Ted Turner started CNN, he proclaimed that “the news is the star.” Ailes, on the other hand, has always been a vocal believer in the power of personality. He was the one who, as a young producer of “The Mike Douglas Show,” advised Richard Nixon to embrace the power of television, and who, as a professional political adviser, taught George H. W. Bush how to best Dan Rather in an interview. Ailes knows as well as any television professional alive that personality is the essence of the medium — he called his 1987 self-help book “You Are the Message,” a wink at Marshall McLuhan’s insight that the medium is the message, and subtitled it “Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are.” Ailes’s advice was just what you would expect: “If you can get the audience to pull for you, you’ll always win.”

[…]

Alone on the wall behind Roger Ailes’s desk in the Fox News headquarters is a rather grim oil painting, framed in gold, of a Revolutionary War-era warship tossed by an angry sea. Ailes bought it at an antique shop 30 years ago and has no idea who painted it. He saw it as “a ship headed into the wind alone, and I thought, That’s my life.” He seems to consider it part of his job to view things that way.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 25 januari 2015.

POLITIK | Stefan Löfven är den ”den valhänta” och Åsa Romson ”den envisa”. Det hela sammanfattar Fokus i rubriken ”Ledarskap i kris”.

Fokus 22-28 maj 2015

Det är en ganska samstämd bild av Romson och Löfven som tonar fram i Maggie Strömberg och Lena Hennels reportage i Fokus om Romson respektive Löfven.

Vad som slår en efter en genomläsning av de två artiklarna är att statsministern och vice statsministern verkar lida av exakt samma problem.

Båda är ganska dåliga politiker. Båda saknar förmåga till flexibilitet. Och båda har fastnat i sina egna principer.

Löfven är en ”övertygelseetiker” som surrar fast sig i masten för att slippa kompromissa. Andra måste anpassa sig eftersom han aldrig kan vara flexibel.

Resultatet blir det samma för Romson eftersom hennes juridiska bakgrund och fixering vid regler skapar en rigiditet som inte lämpar sig i en koalitionsregering.

Maria Wetterstrand var inte heller särskilt bra till en början. Så säger de. Hon var språkrör i sex år innan hon blev populär. Säger de. Hon kunde inte le, tyckte folk. Hon pratade omständligt. Hon var för arg, för smart, för mycket kvinna, för lite kvinna.

Allt det här och lite till rabblar folk på olika nivåer i partiet när man frågar om språkröret och vice statsministern som fick Expressen att mynta rubrikordet trippelhaveri efter partiledardebatten där hon kallat flyktingkatastroferna i Medelhavet »det nya Auschwitz« och efteråt använde ordet »zigenare« i sin otydliga ursäkt.

De tycker att det är orättvist att jämföra Åsa Romson med hur Maria Wetterstrand var på slutet. Man måste ju få en chans att utvecklas och hitta rollen.

Men, trippelhaveriet lades till ett år av politiska misstag. Ett utskällt Almedalstal om vita miljöförstörande män, en fritidsbåt med oljepanna och giftig bottenfärg och en skakig första regeringstid där hon offentligt gick emot landsbygdsministern.

[…]

Tiden på universitetet säger en del om hur Åsa Romson är som politiker. Vid sidan av sin doktorsexamen i juridik har hon en fil kand i svenska. Hon fascinerades av hur grammatikens regler kunde förklara hela språkets uppbyggnad. Samma sak gillade hon med juridiken. Reglerna. De klara ramarna. Rätt och fel. Struktur.

Men politiken kräver snarare flexibilitet, smidighet, anpassning till en ständigt föränderlig omvärld. De som jobbar med henne beskiver ett starkt behov av att rättfärdiga politiska omsvängningar. Tvingas partiet ändra uppfattning i en fråga måste hon resonera sig fram till att det är rätt och riktigt. Hon har svårt att säga: vi gör den här ändringen för vi måste, politiskt.

Det är en problematik egenskap i en regering där man kan komma att behöva försvara vapenexport till diktaturer och Vattenfalls kolkraft.

De regelälskande juristdragen är också grunden till Åsa Romsons kommunikativa problem. I debatten vill hon förklara och resonera så mycket att tillfället har flugit förbi när hon är mitt uppe i meningens fjärde invecklade bisats.

Det är kanske också ur det perspektivet man ska förstå språkrörets reaktion när Expressen kom på henne med att ha målat sin träbåt med förbjuden bottenfärg. När tidningen konfronterade henne med bilder tagna från hennes blogg svarade hon:

– Det är copyright på de bilderna. Det vet du eller?

På så sätt lyckades hon reta upp inte bara dem som tycker att en miljöminister ska ha bättre koll på bottenfärger utan också dem som tycker att politiker ska vara öppna för granskning och ett gäng piratpartister som inte gillade hur hon skyddade sig med upphovsrätten.

Det var juristen, snarare än politikern, son hanterade saken.

Kanske det. Men det finns också en annan möjlig förklaring.

Kanske har Miljöpartiet allt för länge surfat fram på en räkmacka i media. Granskningen av partiet och deras politik har alltför länge varit näst intill obefintlig.

Denna brist på granskning har gjort dem självgoda. Det har resulterat i att man tagit för mycket för givet.

Dessutom är det inte speciellt svårt för politiker att falla in i känslan av att man alltid har rätt. Det är snarare en del av alla politikers DNA.

Kanske trodde Romson och partiet att denna välvilliga inställning till dem skulle fortsätta även i regeringsställning.

Tidskriftsomslaget. Fokus den 22-28 maj 2015.

The New Yorker cartoon....

Bild: The New Yorker.

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