Friday, November 2, 2007

Why Has the Media Been Nominating Hillary? And What About Rudy?

What is Joe Biden’s position on the budget deficit? What is Chris Dodd’s platform? Why is there virtually no coverage of Bill Richardson? Why have there been so media stories laced with connotations that John Edwards has already lost? Why are there so many headlines regarding Barack Obama as a fading star? Why are there so few stories about recent polls showing Hillary with unfavorable ratings topping 50% and so little ink being spilled regarding Mrs. Clinton’s “baggage”? In short, why, up until this past week’s debate in Iowa, did the media crown Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee? There are several possibilities:

First, the profit-driven media is interested in ratings and ad revenue and nothing says “ratings and ad revenue” like the sordid scandals, real and imaginary, that will focus on Hillary Clinton should she secure the nomination. Furthermore, the story of a former First Lady and a woman running for President will also command an audience. Lastly, the dynamic of a restoration of the Clinton years versus the Republican alternative is a story that makes the media drool.

Second, both the moderates/liberals and conservative members of the media would like to see Mrs. Clinton become the Democratic nominee. For the moderates/liberals, despite her vote for the Iraq War, she represents a pendulum shift back to Clinton-era domestic policies that favored a more supportive federal government and a more diplomatic foreign policy. For conservatives, Hillary is the one Democratic candidate that can reunite the fractured Republican Party, resurrecting its chances for electoral success.

Third, the media is actually thirsting for a general election fight between two larger-than-life personalities who will engage in partisan warfare on a level not before seen in our country: Hillary versus Rudy. If that were not the case, all of the sordid dealings of the former Mayor, from Bernard Kerik to divorcing his wife on television, would have already been front page fodder for months. A Hillary/Rudy battle would lead to daily front-page barbs that will both resurrect a faltering newspaper industry and reinvigorate the audience for television news. It will also lead to record-breaking fundraising that will help financially support the various media outlets that will air and print campaign ads.

While Hilary may be the most qualified Democratic candidate in the field and could very well turn out to be the best general election candidate as well, shouldn’t Democratic voters decide the Primary election and not the Fourth Estate? Likewise, shouldn’t Republican voters decide their nominee, not the media?

This past week, the media began to focus negative light on Mrs. Clinton after a less-than stellar performance at a debate in Iowa demonstrated that she may not be a lock for the nomination. Also this past week, after a dismal showing by Mr. Giuliani at a gathering of conservatives, he received several days of critical press coverage while several Republican contenders including John McCain, Fred Thompson, and Mike Huckabee received substantial and positive press coverage, possibly signaling the beginning of the end of the press’s facilitation of the Giuliani candidacy. Perhaps the media is ready to finally start doing its job. Thankfully, with the primaries still months away, it’s not too late.

Michael M. Shapiro, founder of, is an attorney who resides in New Providence, New Jersey. He currently serves as the Chairman of the New Providence Democratic Party and as Editor of The Alternative Press. Contact Mike at