Jerry Brown put it best yesterday – “Meg Whitman isn’t just happy buying commercial breaks, now she’s trying to buy the newscasts, too.”
In fact, Whitman is offering video news releases of her speeches, in an effort to manage all media appearances rather than face the press. Even in media-poor California, this is starting to wear thin. It’s rare enough for a local news station to even use the word “politics,” so clearly this got under KPIX San Francisco’s skin.
But while they may be offended, if these VNRs didn’t come with some controversy, a lot of stations would bite at this. You have no idea how much of your local news is packaged this way. Station budgets are tiny, and reporters are scarce. If a station doesn’t have to send a crew to a Whitman event, and can instead get the footage plopped into their lap, they’ll be sure to run it – and they won’t add much context to it, either. This would guarantee favorable coverage for Whitman across the state. Which is all she wants – the ability to run a gubernatorial campaign without those pesky questions and reporters.
The brutal efficiency of Whitman’s tycoon-led campaign, with its focus on marketing and media management over anything substantive, is kind of jarring. This must be what it’s like to live under Silvio Berlusconi in Italy.
Of course, it would have a chance of failing if her Democratic opponent bothered to articulate a vision for what he wanted to do as Governor.