Last Wednesday, Politico published a pretty devastating story about a fundraising presentation by the RNC:
The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to “save the country from trending toward socialism.”
The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”
The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.
In neat PowerPoint pages, it lifts the curtain on the often-cynical terms of political marketing, displaying an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives.
Those are the first four paragraphs of the story. What they stress is:
a) the cynical, contemptuous attitude the RNC displays towards its donors
b) the fact that the RNC is consciously peddling fear to its donors; in fact, fear is all they are peddling.
That’s not just my opinion. The headline for the story reads: “RNC document mocks donors, plays on ‘fear’“.
After another four paragraphs, we learn:
One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.
The story has remained in the headlines since then. On Thursday and Friday, we had the initial hubbub over the fiasco, on Saturday an influential donor reacted angrily to the news, and Sunday brought us assorted Republican leaders criticizing and distancing themselves from the fundraising presentation.
What I find really interesting is how the story has been reported in the mainstream media. Pretty consistently, they play up the cartoon caricatures of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. They also give some prominence to the fear-motivation angle. But the contempt towards donors is just totally buried. It’s almost as if the liberal media were engaged in a vast conspiracy to minimize the fundraising damage this scandal inflicts on the RNC.
Here, judge for yourself.
First up is the Washington Post, on Thursday, March 4:
National Republican leaders scrambled Thursday to control damage caused by an internal party document that caricatures President Obama as the Joker and stokes fear of socialism to raise money in a critical election year.
The 72-page PowerPoint presentation reveals the blunt appeal to emotion that both parties use to motivate donors and prefer to keep private. But its release online and consequent cable chatter became an unwelcome distraction for Republicans, because the strategy it outlined fit squarely with Democrats’ portrait of the GOP as the party of “no.”
These are the first two paragraphs of the story; not even a mention of donor-contempt. But it’s not even as if it’s buried several paragraphs down. If you click on the link, you’ll find there’s no mention of it at all in the entire article.
We hear a lot about the Republican noise machine. But how about the Republican damage control machine? And how do you even achieve such damage control without actual money changing hands?
The Associated Press doesn’t come off any better. Again, this is from Thursday, March 4:
Barack Obama is “The Joker.” Nancy Pelosi is portrayed as Cruella De Vil, and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo — all part of a Republican Party pitch to top fundraisers.
Tucked into the 72-page Power Point presentation to GOP fundraisers in Boca Raton, Fla., last month, was a direct call to use fear and reactionary sentiments toward Democrats as a fundraising strategy.
“What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House or the Senate…?” one slide asks.
“Save the country from tending toward Socialism!” it replies.
Political groups and parties often use highly charged language to motivate their base of voters and contributors. But the RNC document is unusual in revealing a strategy in such candid detail.
You’d never know that they also took a dump on their donors, would you? The closest the AP comes to revealing that the RNC made some pretty insulting remarks about their donors is this pathetically absurd sentence:
(The presentation) also describes ways to appeal to major donors, including “peer to peer pressure,” “access” and “ego driven.”
Note they don’t even really say that donors were described as “ego driven”. And the phrase is passed off as a way to appeal to donors. What does that even mean?
By Saturday, March 6, even Ben Smith of Politico, who broke the original story, had embraced the notion that the salient features of the RNC presentation were the fear-motivation and the cartoon caricatures. (He couldn’t quite bring himself to put the cartoon caricatures first, though.) His opening paragraph:
A prominent Evangelical figure and Republican donor says he will end his contributions to the organized Republican Party in reaction to the leaked fundraising presentation that advised using “fear” to solicit contributions and displayed an image of President Obama as the Joker from Batman.
Finally, here’s the lede from USA Today‘s story on Sunday morning, March 7:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky today distanced himself from the Republican National Committee’s fundraising pitch at a recent party retreat that portrayed President Obama as “The Joker” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella De Vil.
Politico, which first reported about the fundraising presentation, said the RNC “plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on ‘fear’ of President Barack Obama and a promise to ‘save the country from trending toward socialism.’ “
Once again, there’s not one single word about donor-contempt in the entire story.
A pretty impressive performance, all told.