The recent stir-up involving the Vanity Fair article about John McCain and Mitt Romney dodging hard interviews have made me think a little bit about the strategies of the two campaigns regarding the media.
Romney is clearly building his own media apparatus. He has donated money to National Review, recruited his Great Disciple K-Lo, and done some good outreach to blogs, but has substantially ducked the main stream media. Hugh Hewitt has written some apologetics explaining why ducking the media is good. Romney is clearly only talking to the media when he can control it. One blog is even celebrating this deliberate snubbing of the media.
By contrast, McCain is doing what he’s always done. Giving the media a lot of access, and getting kicked around for some of it, especially the Vanity Fair piece. He even did a profile with Variety about his favorite movies.
This obviously speaks to the strength of the two candidates. But don’t the papers still drive the news cycle? Can Romney really afford to totally skip the mainstream media?
I think that it also speaks to the differences in confidences about the individuals. McCain is not much of a gladhander, but he thinks that once people get to know him, they’ll like him. Deep down, McCain believes that people will like the real him. Whereas Romney has been very careful about parsing his statements in these. He wants to deliver his message, but not have much of a freeflowing interaction. One wonders how we would know what "the real him" is anyways. And this is why the flip-flopping is dangerous for him. If all we have to work with is his tightly delivered messages, and they aren’t even coherent, then what are we to work with?
I think that this is a larger problem for Romney.