Sunday, August 19, 2007

Karl Rove Gives Chris Wallace A Media Relations Lesson; Sen. Patrick Leahy A (Moon)Bat Man Extra!

WOW! I don't say that often in a positive sense but WOW!

Outgoing presidential adviser Karl Rove appeared on Fox News Sunday this week where he was promptly ambushed by host Chris Wallace, and promptly turned into the ambush, opened fire on full automatic and left the field victorious.

Wallace wasted no time in going after Rove, showing part of a speech Rove had given a few years back in which he was critical of Democratic Party leaders and their weak-kneed stance on national security and the War on Terror.

After the tape played, Wallace turned on Rove, expecting to see him rocked back on his heels defending himself. That, after all, is the classic attack mode of modern talk television. Take a portion of what a person says, wrap it in a different light, and leave the target flopping like a fish out of water trying to explain their positions.

And all too often it works. All too often, politicians or pundits respond by waffling, or explaining, or backing away from what they said, and end up looking weak and indecisive.

To say that Rove was having none of that is putting it mildly. To say that Rove turned the segment right back on Wallace and stuck it to him is getting warmer. To say that Rove stuck it to Wallace wrapped in barbed wire and razor blades is right on target.

Rove responded not by getting defensive, but by pointing out that the segment of the speech shown was just that, only a smidgen and taken in this case horribly out of context. Rove then proceeded to put it in context - that he was talking about some horrendously dangerous, some might even say treasonous, comments by members of the Democratic leadership at that time.

These comments included that we should have 'negotiated' with the Taliban rather than kicking their asses in Afghanistan, and what is possibly the most heinous of all commentary out of the Democratic Party since 9-11, when Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin compared US troops to the murderers who served under Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot.

Rove then added to Wallace, on full attack mode, "I have a copy of that speech with me. I'm sure you haven't read it, so I'll leave it for you."

Rove didn't back off his previous commentary, he stood by it, and repeated it without apology or fear. Note to aspiring office holders: watch this segment and watch Rove. Then find yourself a media relations expert who can help you achieve this level of competence under fire.

Before I go further let me note, I genuinely respect Chris Wallace and his approach on FNS. I have heard he is a Democrat, but you wouldn't know it by the way he works. His questioning of Rove was no different than the manner in which he has approached interviews with Democratic leaders, and he may well have been playing devil's advocate, or just doing his job as an investigative journalist.

I also should point out that I have never met Karl Rove, we don't travel in the same circles, and I doubt he will ever call me for advice or just to chat. As my friend Melanie Morgan pointed out once when we were discussing those of us "out here" in America, versus the inside-the-beltway crowd, I don't know his email address and I don't have his cell phone number on my speed dial list.

But what I saw on FNS this Sunday marks the difference in how people without Rove's obvious talents handle a tough interview, compared to his approach. He showed in mere seconds why he is considered brilliant by his supporters, and his reviled by his enemies.

Rove's methodology Sunday was a textbook example of what I teach my clients, including politicians and others who expect to be involved with the media. It generally takes considerable practice under the right conditions to become at ease in a tough interview when the lights and cameras are on you, and Rove showed that he either has done phenomenal work to get to this stage or he is a natural.

It didn't stop with his speech either. Later Wallace tried to pry inside information from Rove on the still yawned-about Valerie Plame affair. But Rove noted that even though Plame and her husband Joe Wilson couldn't get past first base legally or in Congress, they still are attempting to pursue a civil suit in that ludicrous engagement, and there is little he can say on that issue without exposing himself to further litigation.

When Wallace pointed out that the civil suit has been dismissed, Rove noted that the Plames - or is it the Wilsons? - have said they will appeal that dismissal so the case may yet go before another tribunal. "Nice try," was Rove's answer when Wallace asked the same question a half-dozen different ways.

Rove did leave two interesting points of information though - that he had never leaked Plame's name to anyone, that her name was already being bandied about inside the beltway when he was first asked about her by someone who already knew who she was, and that his only other comment to a reporter was that he (Rove) didn't think the situation was worthy of a story.

And from that ladies and gentlemen we get a full-blown inside-the-beltway scandal that involves thousands of hours of Congressional testimony and research, not to mention legal and staff costs in the millions, and the destruction of a least one career, - Lewis 'Scooter' Libby - not for doing anything wrong, but for having a fallible memory.

And the Democratically controlled Congress wonders why virtually no one in America thinks it is doing a good job?

The left continues to hammer away at President Bush's approval ratings, which have been on the rise ever since the White House went on the offensive and started telling America what is really going on in our government instead of reacting turtle-like to every newly manufactured controversy.

But that is obviously just a time-worn leftist method of deflecting attention from the numbers that matter most, the numbers of Americans who think Congress should be flushed down the Potomac if it wasn't for the environmental damage and resultant fish kill.

There are myriad lessons to be learned from Rove's appearance on Fox News Sunday. The most basic of them are: know your subject; don't allow yourself to be intimidated; don't hesitate to set the record straight when a journalist phrases it inaccurately or unfairly; and don't fall into the trap of explaining yourself. Restate your positions in front of a hostile audience with the same conviction you use with a friendly audience.

Oh, and for the left-wing extremists who are destroying the Democratic Party, and attempting to destroy America too: It is impossible to be regarded as Eagles when you act like turkeys.

Leahy A MoonBat-Man Extra!

Briefly, because it isn't worth more than a brief mention, did you see in the news that Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the most weak-kneed liberal in the Northeast, which is really saying something, has a role as an extra in the latest Moon-Batman movie?

Seems the ultra-liberal apologist senator spends an inordinate amount of time reading comic books, and fantasizing about being a superhero!

Before you get all defensive here, I don't believe there is anything wrong with most comics, as long as you keep them in perspective. I personally like Mad Magazine and have since the early 60s. But I am not a Senate committee chairman, and I don't envision myself playing Spy vs. Spy from dawn to dusk.

Leahy, on the other hand, obviously has a difficult time separating his fictional superhero self from reality.

Thus, I have a suggestion for the producers. How about we rewrite the ending so the "distinguished gentleman" ends up leaving a very public, political career and retires to the deep woods of the Northeast Kingdom where he lives in a deer camp, reads comic books every waking hour, talks to Bambi, and contemplates his navel?

Then we can sit back and wait to see if life will imitate art!


Carl McKenzie said...



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