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The [Friday] Papers

Last November, the Beachwood Bookmaking Bureau knocked Dan Rutherford's chances of winning the GOP nomination down five points to 30 percent, saying he was "cementing [his] reputation as a bumbler."

Now we'll put him at 0 percent - he's toast.

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Even if Rutherford is innocent of the allegations against him - and even if the report he's now hiding does nothing but exonerate him - we now have a glimpse of how he would behave as governor when faced with adversity and controversy. It's not pretty.

Ice Cream Politics
"Making his third bid for U.S. Senate, Jim Oberweis has the support of more than half of Republican voters as he runs against a much lesser-known primary opponent for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin this fall, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows.

"The dairy magnate and investor from Sugar Grove had 52 percent, while Downers Grove businessman Doug Truax, a rookie candidate, had 15 percent."

Because voters have carefully researched the candidates and where they stand on the issues.

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"Though he has yet to spend much money this time out, Oberweis has 88 percent name recognition among Republican voters. That's due to not only the family's namesake dairy stores, but also the millions of his own money that Oberweis spent during one campaign for governor and two U.S. Senate bids that date to 2002. Oberweis also lost special and general election bids for Congress before breaking through with a state Senate win in November 2012."

There's a lesson in there - and it's not a good one.

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"Truax has yet to introduce himself to many Republican voters - 52 percent said they have never heard of the military veteran and a managing partner and co-owner of Oak Brook-based Veritas Risk Services."

What does it mean to say a candidate has "yet to introduce himself" to voters? I take it to mean a candidate hasn't spent - or can't afford to spend - the money it takes to put commercials on the air.

There's a lesson in there - and it's not a good one.

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How else do candidates "introduce themselves" to voters? Through the media, of course.

The Tribune "introduced" Truax to voters with a rudimentary 424-word article in July in which he was basically dismissed because he was challenging Dick Durbin.

It was only when Oberweis joined the race in November that the media took notice.

But here's the real problem (and we've seen it best with the coverage of Bruce Rauner): Wealthy candidates not only buy attention with their own pocketbooks, they get an abundance of attention from the media for buying attention with their own pocketbooks. Their investment, in other words, pays off exponentially because the media is obsessed with campaign spending and bored with "issues."

For example, Truax will never get a stream of headlines like, say, "GOP's Oberweis Lends $500,000 To Campaign," as the Trib reported last month. (And those stories are always framed positively as examples of a candidate's weal instead of negatively as a as examples of a candidate's pathological desperation and drive.)

That's not to say the media should ignore campaign spending; hardly. It's to say that campaign spending shouldn't dominate political coverage, and it certainly shouldn't buy additional approving attention from journalists who end up helping create inevitable candidates. Savvy political strategists, for example, know that they can create ads that never - or rarely - actually go on the commercial airwaves and get tons of attention from reporters oddly desperate to trumpet (instead of fact-check) those ads.

Name recognition is something that folks like Rauner and Oberweis (even without his ice cream business) can buy. The media shouldn't fall into the trap that somehow that makes them the strongest candidates.

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"The Truax campaign has been almost solely about the candidate's public speaking engagements," Rich Miller writes. "He's everywhere and he's received some local party support for his efforts."

Sounds like a good candidate!

"That often gives candidates the sense that they're gaining some traction. But in a race like this, you gotta get your name out there."

Oh. In other words, you gotta be rich or you gotta be a clown and say controversial things to get the media's attention, because how else do you "get your name out there?"

Because just being a U.S. Senate candidate apparently isn't enough to warrant coverage.

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"If the choice is between a guy they know and someone they've never even heard of (who could be anybody, even a disguised Democrat, for that matter), voters will almost always go with the guy they know."

Well, you certainly wouldn't vote for someone you've never heard of - unless an organization to which you are devoted told you to.

But otherwise, this is a huge problem for democracy three times over, from the standpoint of campaign finance, the manipulation of "low-information" voters, and the media's responsibility to inform.

Instead of looking at it that way, though, and taking responsibility to improve the process, reporters simply (and smugly) bemoan candidates unable to play along, as if it's savvy to point out the obvious instead of cynical to reinforce the status quo.

Rent Revolution
"In late January, the Chicago Association of Realtors began advising Chicago landlords not to require security deposits," the Chicago Maroon reports.

Obamacare Bolsters Dominant Carriers
Just like progressive "critics" said it would.

Olympic Village Tour
See where athletes live, train and fuck.

Breaking Network News
Network news is broken.

Doniger, Morrissey & The CIA
In Local Book Notes.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day
Boot camp.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Lionize, the Pixies, Civil Shallows, and Daniel Connally with Melanie Budd.

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BeachBook

* Chipotle-Loving Chicago Student Created A Kickstarter To Buy Himself A Burrito.

* The History Of Surveillance And The Black Community.

* Lawsuit: Chicago-Based MMA Railway 'Worst In North America.'

* Cook County Morgue Gets New Cooler.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: True action.



Permalink

Posted on February 14, 2014


MUSIC - Song Of The Moment: Alabama.
TV - Media Consolidation To Get Even Worse.
POLITICS - Offshore Leaks Database.
SPORTS - Beachwood Radio: Broken Bears; Cubs' 7-Year Itch.

BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Lakes, Cheese & You.


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