Carly Fiorina was but one of the Republican presidential candidates who last week attempted to boost their standing in the over-crowded, pre-nomination field by engaging in a verbal spat with front-runner Donald Trump.
Trump was asked a question about Fiorina's meteoric rise in the polls, all the way from 1 percent to 3 percent in a matter of just a few months. Trump, as expected, did not deflect the question but answered it in his usual blunt manner, pointing to Fiorina's often sour demeanor and asking “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?"
The media, predictably, reported, virtually across the board, that Trump was bashing Fiorina's looks, those she was born with not those she controls by using the muscles in her face. Fiorina quipped that she must be "getting under his skin" because of the aforementioned upwards movement in the media generated and controlled polls.
Fiorina and the media all forgot to mention that she was criticized in her 2010 Senatorial bid for bashing her opponent, Barbara Boxer's hairstyle. Fiorina later said that taking (and giving) shots about appearances "goes with the territory." That, however, was in 2010. This is 2015.
Nonetheless, Trump was forced to clarify that he was talking about Fiorina's demeanor, not her actual looks, which some media outlets trumpeted as a victory for freedom of the press and a harbinger of the soon-to-deflate Trump campaign.
Trump's poll numbers responded by going up even further.
The fact is, Fiorina often forgets that she is always in focus on someone's camera when she is out in public, and there are far too many moments when she does in fact look dour, sourpussed even. Several of these moments were during the first Republican "B" Squad debate, the one for the not-quite-there, soon-to-be-gone, never-really-had-it candidates.
Fiorina did well in that debate but often, when another candidate was answering a question and the camera momentarily focused on Fiorina, she looked like she had just bitten into something sour. I should note here that I like Fiorina and am happy that she got sufficient poll numbers to force CNN to restructure its eligibility criteria for the upcoming debate to ensure that she gets on stage.
But I said way back during the B Squad debate that she should get some media relations training that should include teaching her that she is always on camera, and she always should look pleasant, even smiling if appropriate. Looking intense just doesn't work for Carly.
However, now some pundits are saying Trump should really look out for her in this debate because she is going to put him in his place. Or not. This could easily be one of those scenarios where she is so built up by the media that anything less than a grand-slam knockout will be regarded as abject failure.
Remember, the media wants Jeb Bush to face Hillary Clinton in 2016, so no one in DC or Manhattan will lose their cushy jobs as 7-figure anchors, or sought after pundits, or Chief Correspondents of something or other. A lot of media money is at stake here and regardless of which side of the political fence they are perceived to be on, the media is in the tank for the status quo and that means JEB! and Hillary.
Trump, since he is so rich and is funding his own campaign is a fly in the media ointment and from the media standpoint he has to go, the sooner the better. Thus the coverage of anyone who makes the mistake of abandoning their campaign issues to spend time bashing Trump. It won't work for them, it probably won't hurt Trump, but it does adhere to the media agenda.
So if Fiorina, or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who I also like very much and who also jumped on Trump's candidacy this week as a means of getting some media coverage, can bring Trump down, then Jeb will have free reign to spend his $100-million plus of lobbyist money on buying media ads and paying media salaries.
Candidate Ben Carson got on the anti-Trump bandwagon last week as well, questioning Trump's religious faith, an issue which Trump said he keeps private, although he did open up and inform the world that he is a Presbyterian and he believes in the Bible. Carson, who previously tripped up by questioning Trump's immigration stance, ended up apologizing for calling Trump's faith into question.
Carson's status quo immigration position probably hurt him a lot more than any perceived damage he did by questioning trump's intent to deport alien criminals, gang members and others. The public likes that position and Carson's campaign could very well have plateaued by getting into the Trump bashing game plan just to please the media.
Frankly, the more the media and its anointed candidates du jour appear to be using Trump as a whipping boy for their agendas, the more the public reacts negatively to the attackers and positively for Trump. Hey, maybe it wasn't the most subtle or sensitive of comments to say what he did about Fiorina's looks, but it was accurate and it should be more of a wake up call for Fiorina than a slam at Trump.
Even Chris Wallace said on Fox News Sunday this week, when he wasn't trying to get John Kasich (who has developed an affectation for purple in his personal wardrobe) to jump on the bash Trump bandwagon, that Jindal would have received zero press coverage if he gave a speech on a major policy initiative. But Jindal did get coverage and lots of it, for bashing Trump.
Yet Trump is the one going up in the polls, JEB! is plummeting, even in those fake 300 or 400 respondent coffee klatches with margins of error in the 5 percent range, masquerading as polls. Nonetheless, pundits are spouting their wishful thinking that if enough other candidates say enough bad things about Trump, somehow, miraculously, the public will decide they no longer like him and flock to JEB!
Whistling past the graveyard is what they're doing. Whistling past the graveyard.