Giuliani vs. the Talking Heads
By Howard Kurtz
The Ad: With pundits and politicos handicapping the campaign like the Super Bowl, it's easy to lose sight of what's at stake. An economy in peril. A country at war. A future uncertain. The media loves process. Talking heads love chatter. But Florida has a chance to turn down the noise. And show the world that leadership is what really matters.
Analysis: Here's a novel tack: Rudy Giuliani is running against Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, George Stephanopoulos, Alan Colmes, Dana Milbank, Juan Williams and Dick Morris. The former New York mayor is trying to tap into criticism that the media, and especially cable shows, trivialize campaigns and contrast that approach with serious images of the Iraq war and rising gas prices.
The unspoken subtext is that the media have denigrated Giuliani's strategy of trying to survive a string of early losses while husbanding his time and resources for Florida's Jan. 29 primary. There may also be a touch of payback for the press criticism about his mayoral tenure and messy personal life. The Florida ad is a veiled appeal to the state's voters not to be swayed by journalistic prognostications about his chances.
Candidates often urge voters to ignore pessimistic reports about their campaigns -- John McCain took a swipe at "the pundits" after winning New Hampshire -- and the tactic may resonate among Republican voters who polls show distrust the media far more than Democrats. The risk for Giuliani is that viewers will find the ad amusing but not persuasive.
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