Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Media Op - Why Fox Business, Fred Imus, Newsweek, Gannett and Others Come to Me for Answers

By Ned Barnett (c) 2008

I have been giving a number of interviews to the media on campaign strategy and tactics - from Neil Cavuto and Fred Imus to Gannett and Newsweek - for media looking for answers, here are a few things you might want to know:

· I have been in politics professionally since the early 70s when I was speechwriter for two governors (one Democrat, one Republican) in South Carolina, writing about economic development issues, my area (at the time) of specialization

· I worked with the late Lee Atwater on the Ford campaign in ’76 (Ford/SC) – I handled strategy and media for Lee, who was at that time the youngest state party chairman of either party – he was 23, and even then he was brilliant

· In spite of my work with Ford, I was recruited to serve on the Press Secretary’s staff in Washington (Carter) – I’d gone to school with several of his people – but was starting a family and didn’t want to uproot that family for what might be a short-term position

· From ’74-’80, I worked on behalf of specific candidates – a Democratic Lt. Governor, during his bid for the Governor’s chair, a Republican Congressman, etc. – working media, strategy and speechwriting (usually focusing on economic development and healthcare – and more generally on business issues rather than social issues)

· In the mid-80s, I took a special post-graduate independent study program in market research; this refined both my research abilities and – more important – my ability to both analyze what research results really mean and to pinpoint Americans’ attitudes (as indicated by – but not always boldly spelled out by – public opinion research)

· After taking time off for a career detour that included (but was not primarily about) lobbying on behalf of hospitals and healthcare organizations, I worked with Perot until he melted down, then became head of strategy and media for Clinton/Gore-Nevada ’92 (Democrats took Nevada for the first time since Truman in ’48)

· After a falling out with the Clinton administration (even before they took office), I focused on working on behalf of more conservative/pro-business associations and advocacy groups (Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for Health, etc.), as well as candidates for state and national office (i.e., Senator)

· Beginning in 2004, I have been – for radio talk shows, print reporters, and now Fox – analyzing candidates statements and actions (their PR) then reverse-engineering those actions to identify the underlying strategies … then critiquing those strategies as being either sound or flawed … and when I do this for the media, I strive to remain solidly non-partisan – I’m not flacking for any one candidate, party or cause, but am able to look at each campaigns’ actions. In 2004, I did 56 interviews (including five appearances on the Fred Imus show in Tucson), and have done more than a dozen so far this season. Write-ups of some of these “reverse-engineered” strategy critiques can be found at: http://barnettonpolitics.blogtownhall.com/