The issue in ’18 elections: the media

Republicans are pretty good at winning elections, so the strategy they reportedly have settled on for the 2018 congressional elections requires this assumption: You hate reporters more than politicians.

McClatchy News reports today that GOP strategists have indicated that anger against “the media” is now an integral part of winning the next election.

The hope, say these officials, is to convince Trump die-hards that these mid-term races are as much a referendum on the media as they are on President Trump. That means embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them.

David Woodard, a political consultant for South Carolina Republicans whose clients have included Sen. Lindsey Graham and Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, recalled the old adage often quoted by politicians: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

That’s dead now.

“If you pick a fight with them, I think it kind of helps you, and I don’t think many people care,” Woodard said.

The strategy certainly doesn’t mean literally fighting the media. The strategists interviewed say they don’t want their candidates imitating Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, who last month was charged with assaulting a reporter in Montana.

But the aftermath of that incident was instructive for party strategists. Conservatives media figures, such as Laura Ingraham and Brent Bozell, didn’t rush to condemn Gianforte; they criticized the reporter. And the ensuing coverage, according to one Republican watching the race, energized the GOP voters.

Charlie Sykes, the former Wisconsin conservative talk show host, said since Hillary Clinton won’t be on the ballot, running against the media is “perfect.”