On June 9th, while supposedly waiting to be interviewed by KXTV in Sacramento, Carly Fiorina (a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate) said something VERY scandalous... She called Barbara Boxer's hairstyle "so yesterday". What she (supposedly) didn't know is that her mic was on and the video of her catty comment would be "leaked".
Sounds like the perfect chance to give her a gut-punch on your blog, right? I mean, you could really spin that. You could call her a "gossip" or a "catty elitist who cares more about fashion than substance"... This could be the end of her, right?
This is what strategists call a "manufactured scandal". It's something that's "leaked" by the campaign itself to trigger a surge in Google searches but doesn't really do all that much to damage the reputation of the candidate in question.
Fiorina also made sure to mention that her buddy Meg Whitman decided to be interviewed by Sean Hannity. So when Politics Daily and the Huffington Post did their part and made mountains out of molehills with this "caught on open mic" scenario, this is what the results looked like:
Google Searching "Carly Fiorina Hair":
You get a story about Fiorina's Courageous Battle With Cancer.
Google Searching "Carly Fiorina Hair Barbara Boxer":
You get her wikipedia page, which presents a sanitized version of her corporate legacy summed up with another quote about Boxer: "After losing all my hair, Barbara Boxer just isn't so scary anymore." (Another reference to her cancer survivor status.)
Google Searching "Carly Fiorina Whitman Hannity Comment":
You get Carly Fiorina and Sean Hannity in a mutual admiration love-fest with eachother where Fiorina expresses profusely that she is friends with Whitman and that she was afraid Hannity would be "too tough" on her.
You see what this all adds up to?
There were THOUSANDS of liberal bloggers doing their part to advertise Carly Fiorina's spin campaign for a week after the manufactured scandal was "leaked".
The biggest mistake a Liberal Blogger can make is to assume that Republicans are all ignorant people with misspelled signs at a Tea Party or an NRA rally. In reality, if this were a game of chess, they'd already have you in check-mate.
Obama's poll numbers are in the tank, healthcare reform is a win-win situation for the Insurance Lobby (mandatory Insurance with no public option), the war rages on, Gitmo is still open for business, faith-based initiatives are funneling millions of your tax dollars into the right-wing think tanks, billionaires have that antsy-dancey feeling in their pants again and millions of dollars are being dumped into any campaign against a democratic incumbent or gay candidate.
Republicans have convinced America that there is an all-powerful "liberal media" out there, hellbent on denying the "truth" and that somehow, the most watched News channel in the world (FOX NEWS) is just not a part of this grand conspiracy. Meanwhile, "our side", MSNBC, has chosen to legitimize the Tea Party as a "grassroots movement that became a real political party" and they've completely forgotten that it is actually just tightly controlled Republican atro-turf.
You must never forget that Republicans are masters in the art of deception and propaganda - and especially today's Republicans who hail from the corporate dotcom revolution and have learned how to use facebook and adwords to their advantage.
Here are some of my suggestions for liberal bloggers to avoid unwittingly helping Republicans to spin the media in their favor:
1) Never blog about Sarah Palin. She is the media center of Right-Wing talking points and any exposure you give her is always a "freebie" to the GOP. Everything that relates to Palin is a carefully crafted device to get you to do exactly what you're thinking of doing. Remember that.
2) Find some politicians you actually like and blog about their success. Far too many liberals are going down the path of defensiveness and it gives the Republicans quite an edge. The President himself just can't seem to score a few kind words from the mainstream media even though conservatives maintain that we are talking about a "liberal media".
3) Decide what your values are and start from there. Conservatives are able to follow eachother blindly without ever worrying about back-stabbing or sabotage because they all share the exact same values. A Liberal without a clear understanding of his own values will find himself struggling to explain exactly what he is so concerned about and it does more harm to his position than good.
4) Attack someone in your own party on occasion. Decide who the bad apple is in your bunch and expose them as a "wolf in sheep's clothing". This is a great way to draw in some readers from that highly coveted "independent/moderate" group.
5) Do NOT rely on the mainstream media for all your news. Networks like CNN, FOX, MSNBC and CBS are good for an occassional glance, but you should be using the internet to its fullest capability and really digging for information that YOU have decided that YOU care about. Any first-hand information or interviews you can get are far better than recycling whatever the latest talking point is.