With 39 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, a new tactic of media coverage of the campaign begins this week: The Times of London — a Rupert Murdoch-owned paper — headlined an article Monday about how nasty the US presidential race is getting.
The focus of the Times piece was Hillary Clinton. The story noted that American political blogs have been rife with rumors about Clinton's personal life.
Is this a way for the Times of London to “bleed the rumor” into the mainstream media, all the while hiding behind and blaming the blogs?
Will the U.S. political media now do the same thing — citing the Times of London as a safe way to talk about this?
Will Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post and Fox News Channel report or ignore this story by their sister publication, especially in light of the fact that Murdoch himself hosted a fundraiser for Hillary’s Senate re-election campaign and has forged a friendly relationship with former President Bill Clinton? (Murdoch also donated to, and participated in, the Clinton Global Initiative.)
Did Murdoch, a total hands-on manager, clear the Times of London story in advance? Would the London editor dare run this story and rumor without Rupert’s approval, especially knowing of Murdoch’s political support for Hillary?
Let us make no mistake about this: From a political point of view, the last thing the Hillary campaign wants right now is more scandal stories about her and her husband. Such reports and speculation would be devastating to her already-in-trouble campaign in Iowa. And nationally the last thing the Democrats want is Hillary seen as a lightning rod for scandal when the country wants to get away from scandals and messes and move into a new political era.
Barack Obama and his troops must be exultant today over this.
One of the things to watch early this week is how the American political media address this burgeoning story. Do they en masse ignore it? Or do they feel compelled to ask Hillary about such rumors to get their denials on the record? Certainly if this type of story applied to a Republican candidate, the media would be all over it. But there has always been a clear double-standard with the Clintons and especially with Hillary.
Fox News should be “fair and balanced” on this. But their odd relationship with Hillary makes us all wonder. Fox News chief Roger Ailes happily and proudly calls Hillary “a friend” and says, “I like her.” So how objective about this are Murdoch and Ailes going to be even when their own News Corporation newspaper breaks the story?
Meanwhile, out on the trail, the race develops day by day. Columnist Robert Novak is now attacking Mike Huckabee for being a “phony conservative.” Well, guess what, Bob? All the GOP top-tier candidates are “phony conservatives”!
Fed Thompson is melting away - as predicted here last spring.
Rudy, too, is scrambling to get back into the Iowa race as he sees his original strategy of ignoring Iowa is not working.
Romney will spend an unlimited amount of his own money to hold on in Iowa as that victory is a key for his Big Mo-Domino theory of winning the first four GOP contests.
And Ron Paul is H-O-T on the Internet, raising tons of cash and trying to get a RonPaul Blimp up in the air in the next month. But he will not win the GOP nomination; his vote is growing and in New Hampshire he may get 10 percent. But this is just a sign of how divided the GOP is.
But wait — 39 days left. And the surprises haven’t even begun yet.
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