What the Huck?

Let’s forget for a moment that one of the most important elections in our lifetime is eleven months away. Let’s forget that the amount of money being spent on the campaigns could feed the homeless for untold months. Let’s even forget whether we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or from Bob Jones University. Let’s just ask ourselves for one moment, “What the Huck is going on?”

I’m no expert on the subject of media manipulation, but I have some history in its analysis. As you might know, the biggest television honor I ever received during my time in the business was a Best of Show at the National Headliner Awards. During that time, I spent more than a few hours talking with the people who make it their jobs to manipulate what you see and hear on television during campaign seasons. These people are exceedingly smart when it comes to understanding how to twist the common mind into believing something that either isn’t necessarily true or needs a lot of reaffirmation. I usually started my analysis with the belief that the people behind the campaigns were full of hooey and worked up from there.

The most fun of the entire gig was not the wide recognition or appreciation for the work, but the daily battles with the people in campaigns that you never see–the producers, the fixers, the managers. They are professional manipulators and watching them work is a thing of sick beauty. They know how to manipulate the public. They know how to manipulate reporters. They even know how to manipulate other campaigns. It’s game theory, politics, and war wrapped into one overwrought mind.

That is a very long way of saying that what you see on the web, on TV, and–if you still actually read one–in newspapers is more often than not the product of someone with an agenda sitting in the war room of a campaign office. While I don’t pretend to know much of anything of substance about this current election, I do know what to watch out for in terms of plants, misinformation, and trickery. At times it makes me feel like a fruitcake conspiracy theorist. Thing is, that’s all campaigns really are. They are one big conspiracy designed to get their candidate in office.

Here are a few fun things to munch on.

  • E.F Hutton and the Clinton campaign response–When Bill Shaheen speaks, he doesn’t do it lightly. When he speaks to the Washington Post and makes comments about Barak Obama’s drug use, it is no accident. Shaheen has been a major player in this business longer than most reporters have known what a Democrat is. Most people would have us believe Shaheen’s comments were offered without the full knowledge that he would soon be removed from the Clinton campaign, that they were remarks made unilaterally. If it had been a twenty-something campaign staffer who said it, I might be inclined to believe it was a simple mistake. Bill Shaheen, however? No way. Here’s the fun part: Because it was Shaheen and because he is no longer with the campaign, the story has twice the legs it did before. What might have been an up and down story is now more than a week old, and nearly every account includes mention of Obama’s teenage drug use. Even this one. Well played, folks.
  • Huckabee? Really?–In one month, the former Arkansas Governor came back from a nearly 20-point deficit in national Republican polls to tie Rudy Giuliani for the horse race lead. From this we can learn two things. First, polls are, by and large, worthless. John Edwards could announce today that he cured cancer in his basement and not make up an 18 point deficit in the polls. For Huckabee to rise that fast means something is going on and it ain’t Huckabee on his own. Second, Huckabee is capital P perfect for both the Democrats and Republicans. He is an evangelical Christian who once hinted that AIDS patients should be quarantined. Democrats are banking on the hopes that America won’t elect another evangelical to the Presidency. Republicans–especially the ones like Divorced Rudy Giuliani and Mormon Mitt Romney–need a “hey, look over there!” guy. Enter Huckabee. When people refer to a meteoric rise, they often forget to mention that the end of a meteor’s rise is a quick descent. Thanks for playing your part, Huck. I’m sure there will be a good ambassadorship available to you in a year or so.
  • It was a book shelf!— My goodness, I love this Huckabee campaign ad. It is everything and nothing in one ad buy. It gives Huck a chance to talk about how he’s not like the other guys and how he loves God. Further, it gives the libs a chance to laugh what looks like a floating cross in the background. Huckabee half-heartedly protests that the cross is actually a book shelf. Even better, that’s the truth. But please. Please. Unless you are John Edwards and buying ads in South Carolina, you are spending massive amounts of money to produce and distribute campaign ads. Like I mentioned above, there are no mistakes. Now, with demo-pundits making asses of themselves for insulting religion and Huckabee putting it all out there, nobody gets to win, except maybe the people who are getting paid to produce the ads in the first place.
  • Edwards’ love monkey— I’ve spent the past 12 hours or so trying to figure out the motivation for the hit piece in the Enquirer about John Edwards’ alleged love child. His candidacy doesn’t pose much of a threat to anybody as far as I can determine. Maybe it is just The Enquirer being the Enquirer. Any thoughts?

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  • Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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    5 Responses

    1. This love child thing has been the talk of the town over here. Obviously I distrust the Enquirer, but they did break that whole Joey Buttafuco/Long Island Lolita thing WAY before Hard Copy did. Does that count for anything?

    2. Anonymous Anonymous says:

      Don’t be so sure Edwards isn’t a threat.

      I think he may win Iowa.


    3. “Any thoughts?” Uh, no. No thoughts here. More like a sheep than I care to admit. I’m too mentally tired to try to play mind games with the entire world every day.

    4. Well, this made me finish one I had in mind for a while. Managed a weak linkage to poker so I may keep the day job. If I don’t, you’ll need to make space in your basement.