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GOP talking points
Didja see that goofy photo????

TUESDAY, July 27, 2004 -- Some 15,000 members of the media are in town to cover the Democratic National Convention, and if you ranked them by the number of undecided battleground-state voters they reach, I am guessing that the Boston Phoenix would not be in the top third -- which means that at least 4977 journalists declined to cover the Republican National Committee’s daily 10 a.m. rebuttal briefing, because I have secured one of the 24 available seats for the week.

It’s not surprising that most of the media are taking a pass. The press conference runs too late for today’s newspapers and morning shows. By the evening news, a critique of the previous evening’s speakers is, well, yesterday’s news.

I mention all this because in order to judge the effectiveness of the event, it’s helpful to first discern the intent of its organizers -- and I was having the darnedest time trying to figure out what Ed Gillespie wanted to accomplish with these things. Think what you may of him and the RNC, they certainly understand news cycles. The briefing is not live streamed, is not cached on the RNC web site, or released in transcript. What can they hope to accomplish with a news conference of no use to the news media?

My current guess is that it’s meant for the talkers. The Limbaughs, the Savages, the Hannitys, and all their local brethren who need to talk trash about the Dems all day. They woke up today, I’d guess, with a serious Clinton hangover. What do you talk about? Ten o’clock is a perfect time to find out, and to get the three or four sound bites and visuals to help you through the day.

Today’s RNC media message was a little tougher to discern at first. The Democrats went negative, they misrepresented some of Bush’s accomplishments, Michael Moore hates America, Jimmy Carter ruined America’s reputation abroad, and the Democrats are lying about the Republicans reducing homeland security and first-responder budgets. Useful talking points, but a little bland if you’re a host with two hours to fill.

I had no chance to tune into these shows yesterday, so I don’t know whether they parroted the Monday press conference talking point, which was that the Democratic Party is an angry, harsh, extreme, bitter group trying to masquerade as all nicey-nice to fool the American voter. (If you watched or listened, please let me know, dbernstein[a]

But you had to be there, folks. The message of the day is clearly "DID YOU SEE THAT GOOFY PHOTO OF KERRY IN THE BLUE RADIATION-SUIT THING?!?!?!"

The picture was everywhere. On the doorway into the office. On a color copy on the press seats. Mounted on a big posterboard on an easel beside the podium.

Oh, no, the RNC isn’t making fun of Kerry -- they wouldn’t even speak of the photo, like it wasn’t even in the room. The first question was "Why is that picture up there on the wall?" and Gillespie just said "We thought it was a great picture" and moved on. For kicks, I asked a senior RNC press person whether she, or anyone in the building, could provide me with an explanation of the picture -- where it was taken, what Kerry was doing, what purpose the suit served -- and she looked at me like I was an idiot. "It’s out there, you can get it on the Web," she said with a "you idiot"smile. What I mean, I said, is whether the RNC is prepared to provide that context along with the photo -- if they even knew themselves what the hell they were providing to the news media. "Do you know how to access the AP wire?" she replied with the same tone.

Like yesterday, I'm not going to have much of a chance today to monitor the conservative talk shows today, so anyone who does, please let me know whether the goofy photo is, in fact, the talking point of the day. I’d appreciate it.


Issue Date: July 27, 2004
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