Democrat John Edwards campaigned in 2008 on the theme of his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech about there being “Two Americas.” The American people rejected Edwards and his class warfare both times, but he had a point: There are two Americas. Not the two Americas in which John Edwards had two families, though those were real too, but one America for Democrats and another one for everyone else.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president this week and ran smack dab into the wall separating both Americas, via satellite on the “Today Show.”
While being interrogated by TV host Savannah Guthrie, whose second husband is Democratic political operative Michael Feldman, Paul objected to a leading question that could have been written by the Democratic National Committee. Although it was interrupted by Paul pointing out how it was more of a declarative statement than a question, Guthrie’s question was this:
You once said Iran was not a threat; now you say it is. You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel; you now support it, at least for the time being, and you once offered to drastically cut defense spending and now you want to increase it 16 percent. So I just wonder if you’ve mellowed out?
A serious candidate for the nomination for a major political party for president gets asked, after listing an elementary school-level view of complex issues, if he’s mellowed out.
The journalism awards undoubtedly will flow to Guthrie for that interview, but a candidate gets only one shot to launch a campaign. To his great credit, Paul did not play the media’s game. He replied, “Before we go through a litany of things you say I’ve changed on, why don’t you ask me a question: Have I changed my opinion?”
That’s the smart way to ask a question, especially if you’d like to be taken seriously as a journalist. It’s how it used to be one and one day might be again if journalists can be cloned in future generations from the real ones of the past who are now frozen in amber. But today what we have are activists with scripts and press credentials.
Paul did what any candidate being spun should do, but Guthrie’s credentialed fellow travelers then did what they had to do.
Chuck Todd, host of the flailing “Meet the Press,” lept to his NBC News colleague’s defense. “He’s got to be careful here,” Todd said. “This is turning into a habit, particularly over — this is now two prominent women interviewers…Kelly Evans of CNBC, Savannah now.”
Two events. Months apart. One remembered only by the media because it involved someone known only to the media. And that’s “turning into a habit.”
The narrative is now set: Rand Paul has a temper, especially with female reporters.
It’s not true, of course, but few media narratives are. The truth has nothing to do with what the media reports, particularly when it comes to politics.
Others piled on, as they always do, and the snowball, well, snowballed.
In an interview with the left-wing UK outfit “The Guardian,” the media got exactly what they wanted – more fuel for the narrative.
Some guy named Paul Lewis interviewed Paul in Iowa “live on the Internet.” As with any candidate, Rand had another interview lined up with CNN after the Guardian hit. In the world of politics, real TV is still more important than streaming Internet.
As the CNN interview time approached, Lewis did what anyone would do – tried to get more time with a candidate than the candidate had. He got it.
Under the guise of “one last question,” Lewis asked his question and Paul answered it. But Lewis wanted to ask a follow up. Paul didn’t have the time. CNN was waiting. So Paul left, as would anyone.
Lewis and the media had their story; the narrative would be fed.
“Rand Paul ends Q&A when pressed on GOP voters’ views on race and policing,” the Guardian’s headline read.
Lewis wrote, “The senator’s decision to walk off camera shortly after that question was asked, refusing to engage with a follow-up and declining to wait for the interview to be wrapped up, caused some controversy on Twitter.”
The “controversy” was started by Lewis and his cohorts at the Guardian, not by the end of the interview. If Lewis thought he had such an important question to ask Paul, why wait till he knew Paul had to leave to ask it? Precisely because Paul had to leave – if he engages in the debate Lewis wanted he gets more interview time; if he doesn’t, he’s “dodging” and feeding the narrative that Rand Paul has a “problem” with the press.
Paul chose to remain on schedule and keep his commitment … to the press. The narrative was fed.
No Republican should give any time to any left-wing rag in the first place. No one who reads them will be voting in a GOP primary, nor will they be voting for a GOP candidate in the general election. Consumers of left-wing media aren’t blue collar Reagan Democrats; they’re the fringe. Ignore them.
Paul didn’t, and the media sprang into action.
Hadas Gold, blogger for the left-wing “Politico,” wrote a piece entitled “Rand Paul walks out of Guardian interview.” Stupid, but technically true because he, like everyone at the end of an interview, walked away. But Gold didn’t report the story just because it was a non-story without the narrative.
Editorializing, Gold wrote, “The incident is the latest in a string of testy interviews Paul has had with the media.” She then writes about the Guthrie interview and about how, in her opinion, Paul is known to have “a particularly prickly demeanor” with the press.
I asked Gold why she used the word “testy” when Paul made it clear he had time for only one more question. She responded with “paul (sic) has called himself that.” When I asked how that word, which Paul has used to describe himself, applied to the interview with Lewis … wasn’t that her projecting, not reporting? Never heard back from her.
The narrative had been fed; to hell with reality.
Rand Paul is being branded a “mansplaining” misogynist with a hot temper. His “sins” were trying to be prompt and treating a female interviewer like he (or anyone) would treat someone being dishonest.
Promptness is a novelty in the Obama years considering he’s on time only for golf. And you’d think feminists and leftists would appreciate a person treating one person as he would treat another, but that’s not how the left-wing media works.
The people who hear “food stamps” and think “black people,” even though there are more white people on them than any other group, see no contradiction in “championing” equality of the sexes while decrying its practice when done by someone on the other side of the political fence. Just as it’s racist when leftists equate welfare with “black people,” it’s sexist when they equate verbal sparring differently because it happens to be with a woman.
Intellectual consistency never has been a strong suit of the left – the richest people decrying the wealth gap and calling for redistribution; private jet-living elitists demanding everyone else decrease the “carbon footprint,” etc. – but they’re safe from being called out for their hypocrisy because of their stranglehold on the media.
That stranglehold creates the two Americas – one for the left, the other for everyone else. Today, Hillary Clinton, the largest beneficiary of those separate and unequal standards, is expected to tweet out a video (and, ironically, send out an email to supporters) announcing she will be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. The narrative will be how “historic” her candidacy is, how “smart” she is, how her “record” makes her “uniquely qualified” for the task. None of which, except the historic claim, will be remotely true, nor will they be remotely discussed in the media.
But then, the narrative trumps all in both Americas, which is about the only thing both Americas have in common.
Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.