Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rudy felled by Talking Points Memo?

Kevin Drum has an interesting graph showing how Rudy's support collapsed in the wake of the 'Shag Fund' story.

Talking Points Memo was not the original source of all the Rudy stories but as with the Alberto Gonzalez story, they quickly became the clearing house for all things Rudy. The Politico broke the story of the hidden security expenses but TPM coined the term 'shag fund' and linked it to Rudy's other skeletons: in particular Rudy's Shag Pad in the emergency control center matching Kerik's shag pad at ground zero. If Rudy crashes in Florida as expected and the crash is due to the Web, it is the second time Josh Marshall has forced a major Republican figure into retirement.

The timing strongly suggests that the 'Shag fund' is part of what did Rudy in, but is it likely that a significant proportion of Florida Republicans get their political news from the Web?

If the Web had an effect it was through its effect on either the establishment media or the Giuliani campaign. I would like to think it was the first since that was the idea I had when I put up the first politics site on the Web in 1992: The Web would provide a feedback loop that would regulate the behavior of the press and make it harder for them to act as partisans for one side.

I suspect that it was more the effect on the campaign than the media though. The Giuliani campaign went into '9/11 overdrive' after the Shag Fund story broke. Watching the Giuliani campaign commercials you might imagine that Rudy had personally defeated Bin Laden in a duel on 9/11.

This quickly became a vicious circle. The 9/11 ads went down terribly with the establishment media who had all read TPM, knew about the shag fund, the shag pad, Kerik and had begun to see Giuliani as an opportunist rather than a national security expert. Negative coverage caused Giuliani's numbers to drop bringing a fresh wave of 9/11 adverts. Pretty soon the only message the campaign was putting out was 'vote for Rudy, he gave a good press conference on 9/11'.

No comments: