Report of Obama-Wright Ad Tests Media Waters
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- To link Barack Obama with Jeremiah Wright, or not?
Political news exploded Thursday when a document revealed that a GOP super PAC had considered a plan to launch a major attack advertising campaign against Obama for past ties with his former spiritual adviser.
One political campaign attack-advertising expert, though, argued that the leaked document was less about voters and more about shaping the conversation among journalists, first.
"At the presidential level, attack ads are not about the public, it's about journalists," said John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University who has written about attack ads in presidential campaigns. "The fact that you and I are talking about this is exactly what the
Geer explained that the news reaches journalists who blast out stories and comments about it, and their audiences digest the information and ultimately gauge whether the issue sticks.
Romney publicly repudiated on Thursday the Obama-Wright idea that the super PAC had considered, as he called it, the wrong course for the campaign.
Jack Burkman, a Republican strategist who worked for the John McCain 2008, George W. Bush 2004 and Bob Dole 1996 campaigns, said that the document was likely leaked on purpose.
"The answer's yes, they want to start getting it out there, they want to start reminding the media -- first of all ... media is always changing, you have a lot of new people in it since 2008 -- you have to remind them four years is a long time, you have to remind everyone who might not have been studying elections," Burkman said.
Most major political news outlets ran some angle Friday morning about the Obama-Wright plan that had surfaced Thursday. The Associated Press ran with an article that suggested nothing would be off-limits in 2012 campaigning; Politico's top story said the proposed ad blitz renewed discussions about race issues; The New York Times took similar aim on race, but also included religion; The Wall Street Journal highlighted the insider political sparring the report incited; and BuzzFeed had already moved a step further -- reporting about a Democrat invoking Mormon polygamy (Even GOP opponents kept mum about Mormon religion) to thump Romney.
Politically, it appears, that the Obama-Wright link is fair game, because "the Rev. Wright thing happened," said Geer.
"Obama, he's president. I mean we're talking about a serious politician, so is he ready to go hand to hand?" askeds Geer. "It's
McCain, in 2008, declined to run with Wright attacks against Obama, which left many conservatives to wonder what more there could be to know. On the other hand, Obama publicly rejected during the 2008 primary any ties with the reverend as he called Wright's comments "divisive and destructive."