Mitt Romney and President Obama might have some reason to ignore what former VP Spiro Agnew called “those nattering nabobs of negativism” – who really wants to read about attack ads against themselves all day, anyway? – but a complete lack of engagement with the media doesn’t seem to be the answer, either. So how do the two presidential candidates compare in terms of media savvy?
In an interview with the National Review Online, Romney today touted his no-news strategy as a way to ensure he stays on message:
“I don’t see a lot of the press coverage because my travel schedule keeps me from seeing all of it. A long time ago, I got good advice from a friend who said, ‘Don’t read the papers, they’ll only throw you off of your message.’ I don’t worry a lot about what’s being said from day to day. My own view is that people will recognize that I was instrumental in helping build a very successful business that employed a lot of people, and that our business was able to invest in other people’s dreams, many of which were successful.”
Obama, on the other hand, seems to think a greater immersion is the better tactic. The president reportedly gets his news via BlackBerry, and said in an April Rolling Stone interview that he thumbs the pages of a few papers and watches “The Daily Show” as well, along with, of course, reading Rolling Stone:
“I don’t watch a lot of TV news. I don’t watch cable at all. I like ‘The Daily Show,’ so sometimes if I’m home late at night, I’ll catch snippets of that. I think Jon Stewart’s brilliant. It’s amazing to me the degree to which he’s able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense – for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do. I spend a lot of time just reading reports, studies, briefing books, intelligence assessments.
“I’ll thumb through all the major papers in the morning. I’ll read the Times and Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, just to catch up.”
“I read all of the New York Times columnists. [Paul] Krugman’s obviously one of the smartest economic reporters out there, but I also read some of the conservative columnists, just to get a sense of where those arguments are going. There are a handful of blogs, Andrew Sullivan’s on the Daily Beast being an example, that combine thoughtful analysis with a sampling of lots of essays that are out there. The New Yorker and The Atlantic still do terrific work. Every once in a while, I sneak in a novel or a nonfiction book.”