- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

Voters must wonder if the 2016 presidential debates are entertainment, a sports match or a significant public affairs event. Overcome with ratings lust, the pushy broadcast media has packaged the debates as brash combat, complete with whirling graphics and monumental sets. Moderators have taken liberties with candidates and content. Now comes the pushback. GOP front-runner Donald Trump — who knows the business better than the broadcasters — has announced he will negotiate directly with the networks over the fate of debates, which could benefit from less raucous frills and more gravitas and authenticity. Mr. Trump’s rivals are having their say as well.

So we have a cultural moment: The political marketplace appears to be oozing off its traditional power base, courtesy of outsider candidates such as Ben Carson — and the aforementioned billionaire himself.

“When will politicians entirely fire the media? We can thank Carson and fellow political outsider Donald Trump for inculcating their fellow Republicans on how the media actually works circa 2015,” says Simon Dumenco, a veteran Ad Age columnist. “Carson and Trump seem the most acutely aware that given the diminishing cultural power of the TV networks — not to mention fading newspaper franchises — they increasingly get to author their own narratives. As self-made phenomena who have left political pundits both bewildered and agog, they feel like they can proceed without playing ball with the media, thank you very much.”

Mr. Dumenco concludes, “Trump and Carson are, at the moment, acting like content marketers, secure in the presumption that if they just keep on entertaining the electorate, journalists will have no choice but continue to show up and dutifully take dictation.”

TRUMPISM



“You have this crazy Wasserman Schultz — Deborah Wasserman Schultz — a highly neurotic woman. This is a woman that is a terrible person. I watch her on television. She’s a terrible person.”

— Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, describing the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, to Breitbart News Daily, a new SiriusXM talk radio show

AND THE DNC IN REPLY

“The Republican front-runner’s misogynistic attacks are sadly representative of the GOP’s outdated approach to women and the issues that affect them and their families. Whether it’s trying to get between them and their doctor, opposing equal pay for equal work, or using offensive language, the Republican Party is wrong for women.”

Kaylie Hanson, director of women’s media for the Democratic National Committee, in a rebuttal statement

MARCO RUBIO, THE ‘LIFE OF THE PARTY’

It is a fortuitous bit of scheduling. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Republican hopeful who recently tangled with Jeb Bush during the third GOP debate, soon will inaugurate a snappy new political event. The New Hampshire Institute of Politics launches a new public policy series showcasing presidential candidates — complete with the title “Life of the Party.” It is deliberately designed to draw in a coveted voting bloc that often ignores political fare.

Organizers bill the series as “an alternative to the traditional political process,” targeting young professionals with casual questions and free-flowing dialogue.

“Attendees will get to know the candidate as a person, and not just a political figure. Questions will focus on issues that affect the lives of millennials across the state and on genuine conversation, not specifically tied to politics.”

Mr. Rubio, an increasingly canny public figure, has long since jettisoned the lingering effects of what the gleeful press once dubbed “Rubio’s Watergate” after he sipped water while offering the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech during a pivotal live broadcast. Mr. Rubio’s campaign slogan is now “New America Century,” he is adamant that America does not “owe him,” and, like the aforementioned Mr. Trump, he has aggressively taken on the press.

“The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC in the mainstream media,” Mr. Rubio says.

The lawmaker — who at 44 is the youngest White House hopeful of them all — is not opposed to sharing photos of himself playing vigorous football. He’ll be in the Granite State on Wednesday to present his version of the “life” of the Grand Old Party.

THE INEVITABLE RUBIO SURGE

Donald Trump maintains his sizable lead in the New Hampshire Republican primary and Ben Carson holds onto second place, but the latest Monmouth University Poll has found a new occupant in the 3rd place slot — Marco Rubio,” the college reported Monday.

And the numbers: Mr. Trump has 26 percent of support among likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire, followed by Mr. Carson (16 percent), Mr. Rubio (13 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (11 percent), Sen. Ted Cruz (9 percent) and Jeb Bush (7 percent). The rest of the field trailed with 5 percent of the vote or less — way less.

“Marco Rubio’s standout performance in the last debate seems to have paid dividends in a contest that was supposed to be dominated by his former mentor Jeb Bush,” says Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth Polling.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Think Before You Pink”

— Motto of Breast Cancer Action, a watchdog group fed up with “cause marketing” through an endless array of commercial pink ribbon products and promotions. The campaign calls for more transparency from companies involved in often-lucrative fundraising and public awareness, and encourages people to question the nature of pink ribbon promotions.

“As long as consumers think they’re doing something meaningful about breast cancer by participating in these campaigns, the real work that need[s] to be done around treatment, prevention, and access to care will continue to be under-funded and ignored,” the group advises.

POLL DU JOUR

54 percent of Americans say Bill Clinton “has gotten past the scandals of his presidency.”

53 percent of Americans say foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state was a “conflict of interest.”

48 percent say it’s “none of their business” whether Mr. and Mrs. Clinton remain married.

39 percent say they “hate” the idea of another Clinton in the White House; 33 percent like the idea, 12 percent say “let’s wait for Chelsea.”

38 percent say Mr. and Mrs. Clinton stay together because it’s “good politics.”

38 percent say Mr. Clinton is the “most talented Clinton”; 19 percent cite Mrs. Clinton, 11 percent Chelsea Clinton.

Source: A CBS News/Vanity Fair poll of 1,053 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 11-15 and released Monday.

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