The San Antonio Express-News reports that there are some growing hostilities between the Wendy Davis camp and the Capitol Press Corps. Specifically, following a speech given at a Travis County Democratic Party event, it was revealed that Davis’ campaign had shut out reporters from every publication except for the Texas Tribune. David Rauf, a reporter for the Texas Hearst papers (Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News), later took to twitter in order to both confront the party and evidently blow off some steam.
You can read the article for yourself, including all the tweets referenced, it is a bit entertaining. Essentially, the controversial revolves the blatant favoritism at play when one media outlet gets exclusive rights to cover a story. It is very amateurish for a campaign, and continues to paint a murky picture for Davis’ chances. The cliched response I have seen on a plethora of social media sites in response to this is that Davis should be running to reporters, rather than away, especially with all this favoritism at play. Another commentator noted how silly it was that Wendy Davis –who could defend herself competently in front of the entire Republican machine for twelve hours last June– could not be more open and available to the media.
The Texas Observer expanded upon this story in what could only be called a scathing criticism. The Observer column delineates each and every problem with the press corps that Davis’ camp has allegedly had since starting off, including giving reporters the runaround, harassment after publication and only granting access after knowing the particulars of a story.
I also invite you to read that column, but it is based on mostly old incidents and honestly just reads like a hit piece. Politico has yet another take on the story, and again makes the point that perhaps her campaign is not ready for prime time. As many will recall, this fits a pattern of Davis’ early campaign, especially in light of her reluctance to do any work on the Primary election grind.
Forgive me for making such a disappointing comparison, but Wendy Davis’ campaign is beginning to look more and more like Ben Hall’s. Smugness and condescension from a political candidate –especially those who feel above the fourth branch and all of its responsibilities– always irk me, whether you are the President or running for dog catcher. However, the underdogs are always particularly foolish to shun the press; they should love them. Since most people do not subscribe to mailing lists from the candidates –pointedly not independents or undecideds– the mainstream press holds a monopoly on the lens through which the general public views a candidate. Campaigns needs to handle that lens with care, which I fear the Davis campaign has not done thus far.
Davis’ campaign needs to learn from this experience. The reason behind these communications hiccups are not important. Whether it is inexperience, complacency or just a bad attitude from the press office, the most important point is that it is nixed promptly and without delay. Texas Democrats should know all too well that the worst punishment the media may dole out is not bad publicity, it is none at all. Not inviting the press corps to your speeches is a very quick way to get there.