Some have advised that Romney needs to run against the media, but that would be a mistake and it would play into the great noise machine’s agenda by making him seem bogged down in pettiness. It’s the kind of campaign that Gingrich might have been able to run, but Romney is also no Gingrich, and such a campaign, even with a great deal of force behind it, might have proven to be self-defeating.
The truly important thing to understand about the media is that it is a distraction, a noise machine that spins constantly to block the message. It is a filter between Romney and the public. Rather than fighting the filter, it is best to ignore it as much as possible. That seems counterintuitive until you start thinking of the media as some very expensive and highly paid trolls affiliated with Obama 2012 who are in substance no different than hecklers who follow candidates around hoping to get them to slip up.
Trolls have to be ignored because their only purpose is to divert and distract you from your message. The only way to beat a troll is to starve a troll. When you engage with trolls, the trolls win because the trolls are not there to honestly debate an issue, any issue, they are there only as a diversion.What they do is amusing and rewarding for them while ending any meaningful dialogue.
The great noise machine with its countless speakers and spokesmen, its talking heads and its teleprompters, its instant updates and live-from-the-scene narratives, is only a distraction. It is there to block the issues that we should be talking about by talking about what does not matter and about what it wants us to do. The more attention is paid to it, the more, like all trolls, it is able to drive the narrative, rather than be driven by it.
The election will be decided on economic confidence, not on tax returns, race or any of the other non-stop nonsense coming out of the noise machine. The noise machine’s job is to make the election about anything and everything except economic confidence. But the public confidence levels in the media are even lower than their confidence levels in politicians. The noise machine’s only hope of making this work is by compelling the Romney campaign to engage with its narrative, to reply to it and to reinforce it instead of focusing on the issues that people genuinely care about.
Romney’s path to winning this is to keep calm and carry on, to laugh off the media’s predictions of doom and to keep talking about ObamaCare’s taxes and their impact on medicine, about what the national debt will mean to our grandchildren, about how an entire generation is lost without work, about how the economy has to be regenerated by giving it some breathing room instead of trying to control it and about how it’s time for a change. And he has to do it all despite every distraction that the media throws at him and there will be many more before the election is through.
The consistent message has to be that things can keep on going the way they have or they can get better and the ability to move that message to enough people will determine whether Romney wins or loses. And he will have to do that while running not against the media, but despite the media, around the media and beyond the media. He will have to talk to the people even when he’s talking to the media.
This isn’t easy, but what it really requires is not perfection but perseverance. Romney will make mistakes and the media will play off them. He will not make mistakes and the media will claim he did. It does not really matter what Romney does, because the media will still tell the same story anyway. And once he understands that, and perhaps he already does and has for a long time, he will feel liberated because the media will not matter anymore.
Media leverage came from its conditional coverage, but when its coverage is unconditionally hostile then what the media makes of a given thing no longer matters. A completely predictable media is also a completely boring media. It is a media that fewer and fewer people bother with anymore. The media’s power is the power of a troll, the power of a noise machine, the power of being paid attention to. The more people stop paying attention to it, the more it dies.