Saturday, June 12, 2010

Republicans Gloat Over Oil Spill: The HuffPo Leak

I watched WVUE, Channel 8, our local Fox station, Thursday night, June 10, because it advertised beforehand that it would cover Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's staged speech to "angry" oil rig workers. It's clear from my post that I knew Republicans were eating this BP oil spill crisis and subsequent drilling moratorium with a spoon. It gives them a way to appeal to people's emotions while they blast President Barack Obama.

Eventually they hope to make people believe everything that went wrong in the oil spill's aftermath is Obama's fault. Running strategy in politics is no different than running strategy in war. The goal is to defeat your opponent. What's fairness got to do with it?

Furthermore, yesterday, upon reading Interior Secretary Salazar's suggestion that the moratorium may be over soon, I recognized that the Obama administration may be buckling under pressure to stop the temporary ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. I said Obama is having a Pontius Pilate moment.

So, I was not shocked to see that Republicans are gloating, as reported by the Huffington Post. However, I'm not even sure the supposed leak of gloating emails to the HuffPo website is an actual accident.
Republican communication strategists in Washington and Louisiana are thrilled at the press coverage of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to e-mails from GOP officials accidentally sent to the Huffington Post.
The HuffPo writer mentions a Louisiana single father, Peter Duet, who tells a story in the Fox 8 video about talking to his young daughter about his need to work.
"Baby, so daddy can take you to Wal-Mart and buy you toys," he says, explaining that he won't be able to buy his daughter toys -- or food, for that matter -- if Obama doesn't reverse his decision.
Yep. Having worked with people who seek to shape political opinion before, I know that clips like that are priceless. Democrats use the same tactics when they're smart enough to make an emotional appeal rather than a policy-analysis appeal. It's true that humans are more susceptible to pathos than logos.

But what about this so-called Republican accidental send to HuffPo? It's fishy to me because there's a political advantage to this leak. It gets Republicans more press on a big liberal site like Huffington Post, where it's expected Republicans will be blasted anyway. Would HuffPo have even posted the Fox 8 video or given it more thought if the story had not been brought to its attention by a supposed email accident on the conservative side?

There will be people who call themselves progressives watching the video at Huffington Post who start to think Obama is wrong to have called for a moratorium. Consider media outlets reported Sarah Palin's misrepresentation implying Obama was in deep with BP without bothering to check facts first, and some progressives believed it because it was repeated on Politico or some other site they read. Busy humans don't check information. They mistakenly believe news outlets and websites have checked all facts before publishing a story, or that he said/she said journalism is news you can trust. So, sometimes bad publicity does the trick on shaping opinion as much as good publicity.

But again, I've been saying all along that Jindal and other Republicans are dancing over this oil leak because it's virtually impossible for the president to escape hostility. Most people don't follow complex topics and read the details. They just hear soundbites and skim headlines.

1 comment:

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Yes, fact checking, like reading, is fun-da-men-tal.

Good analysis, as usual, of political slime.