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Leader's aren't Born, They are Harvested by Public Relations Firms
Time Magazine: This May Be a Pre-Mortem of the 2000 Campaign
"Research is a fundamental point," he says. "We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. Research digs up the ammunition. We make the bullets."
That was Tim Griffin, deputy to the GOP head of research from a BBC documentary called "Digging the Dirt". The war he was referrring to war the election of 2000 and the bullets he has in mind are aimed at our heads. You see, he and others like him do opposition research. They scrutinize every word of the opposing candidate and "make the bullets" by which those candidate's character will be assasinated. Like in conventional war, those with the most bullets usually win.
In the film we see RNC glee as the Associated Press accepts their oppo research on a Gore misstatement during the first presidential debate. During their months of filming BBC producers also observed producers for NBC's Tim Russert, among others, calling to enquire if the team had any new material. This was apparently normal practice.
I don't think that it should come as a suprise to anyone that news agencies are relying on the legwork of obvious PR firms to prepare their news stories. What some people might be afraid to admit is that this ultimately tilts the playing field in favor of people that are willing to arm themselves with the tools of the trade. This in turn forces all sides to commit time and resources to the sole task of slandering their opponent. For if they fail to do so they will see themselves destroyed in the public's opinion. The broader implications are that any candidate not able to play in this cut-throat game will not stand a chance. This will cause all politicians to speak less candidly and rely on more scripted responses to questions for fear that any misstatement will be exploited harshly. Already we see that politicians shy away from answering questions with anything but some pre-arranged response designed to further the positive PR and defuse the negative.
In the 2000 election the plan was to make Al Gore into a liar.
How to do this? Simple. Establish a massive database of every utterance in Gore's 26 years in public service — and then pounce on any and every discrepancy like a bulldog lawyer seeking to discredit a witness. It wouldn't matter how tiny the variance. Any deviation could be characterized as an embellishment, an exaggeration, an untruth, a dishonesty. And then finally the word that would superglue Gore to Clinton. A lie.
The real lies are the false characterizations built upon highlighting the negatives and ignoring the positives. And we make our decision: "who should lead our country?" upon the assumption that we are working on accurate information. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are working with bad information, and as they say "garbage in, garbage out".
But when Gore makes what turns out to be his misstatement about visiting Texas fire sites with FEMA director James Lee Witt, Griffin senses blood. "Have Jeanette take a look at that!" he cries. And his hunch is right. Gore has transposed dates or people. And that gives Griffin another opportunity.
From here it goes into the network of sympathetic journalists and talk show and newspaper pundits to be bandied about the echo chamber to become conventional wisdom.
In the end do we mearly end up electing a person that never takes a position on anything, never opens their mouth without pre-approval from their handlers, and disguises their true nature in doublespeak?
We do, and we did.
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