A Fred Of Two Tales

Fred Thompson paid a visit to New Hampshire this week, his first as a certain presidential candidate — and he got a taste of what media coverage would be like from this point forward. One reporter from McClatchy did his best to pour cold water on Fred’s appearance, while the New Hampshire Union-Leader’s editorial page editor pronounced it a rousing success.
First, McClatchy’s Steve Thomma focused on the brevity that was the soul of Fred’s wit:

When Fred Thompson made his debut on the presidential stage here this week, he left some Republicans thinking he needs more work before his nascent campaign matches the media hype it’s gotten in advance.
The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to invoke platitudes about freedom and strength.
He left more than a few Republicans disappointed.

“Platitudes about freedom and strength…” No loaded language there! Thomma quotes one attendee about his disappointment with the short speech, and characterizes another quote by the same person as having been said “dismissively”. It’s a strange news article; it reads more like an op-ed column.
If readers want an op-ed column, they may be better served by going to the state’s most well-known paper and its editorial page editor. Andrew Cline noticed that Fred didn’t just make a nine-minute stop in New Hampshire but had campaigned there all day. Cline has a different opinion of the brief fund-raising appearance, too:

Before the evening event on their behalf, Thompson made the rounds like an experienced presidential candidate.
He hit the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he met with publisher Joe McQuaid before touring the newsroom, had a tuna sandwich at the Merrimack Restaurant in downtown Manchester (where all candidates seem to be required by the secretary of state’s office to eat at some point) and stopped for a chat at a Hooksett gun shop.
Thompson’s evening speech at the Wayfarer Inn was timed at all of nine minutes. It was enough to give N.H. Republicans a taste and touch on the usual conservative topics: smaller government, lower taxes, federalism and winning the war against terrorists.
But Thompson added his own twist in this state where registered independents outnumber Republicans: “I think we can form a new coalition of Republicans and independents and some Democrats. If we do the right thing, we’ll be a magnet for people of all beliefs about all kinds of issues, but [who] basically [hold] their country’s issues first and foremost, and that’s the thing that we’ll have in common.”

Well, that sounds quite a bit more substantive than the actual news report from McClatchy, doesn’t it? Fred spent the day touring the Granite State, meeting people and conferring with the state’s largest newspaper. He then appeared at a benefit for state GOP candidates — not for his own candidacy — and talked about shared values and how we could build a coalition of New Hampshire voters to support them.
Maybe McClatchy should ask Cline to handle their actual reporting in the future, and send Thomma back to a less-biased beat.

14 thoughts on “A Fred Of Two Tales”

  1. Fred Thompson expends more energy on deeds than on a 9 minute speech. Only biased reporting would ignore his efforts to walk among the people and, instead, focus on a summation of the days events.
    Fred Thompson has my vote! He reminds me of Ronald Reagan.

  2. One of Sen. Thompson’s biggest obstacles right now is the fact that he is still under contract to ABC Radio. As long as he is, he cannot be a candidate. As a result, he has to talk around himself as a candidate and avoid anything that might trigger the equal time laws some states have.
    The moment he starts talking about himself as a candidate and his own policy ideas, radio stations will have to cut his programming, list it as a contribution with the FEC, or offer free equal time to everyone from Romney to Paul. So when he is ad-libbing or answering questions, he has to think every sentence though an “I can’t be a candidate right now” filter. I have looked through Thompson’s history pretty well and haven’t seen him break a contract, or his word, once.

  3. I suspect that this is the media (as well as Thompson’s GOP rivals) beginning to see a potential threat that they want to quash. Also, Thompson isn’t a full candidate yet. This was just a “good to meet you” kind of visit. NH voters are, I think, a bit too spoiled.

  4. Whether you judge FDT as a Washington insider, or more the outsider, Fred is emphasizing the outsider part these days. So he may think, he’ll “break the outsider spell” if he gets to far into the details of day-to-day legislation. He may be right. There was this other guy from Tennessee, who always wandered too far into the weeds (of legislation,) and it just turned people off.
    Third Gore-Bush Presidential Debate
    October 17th, 2000 – St. Louis, MO

    GORE: And I specifically would like to know whether Governor Bush will support the Dingle-Norwood bill, which is the main one pending.
    MODERATOR: Governor Bush, you may answer that if you’d like. But also I’d like to know how you see the differences between the two of you, and we need to move on.
    BUSH: Well, the difference is is that I can get it done. That I can get something positive done on behalf of the people. That’s what the question in this campaign is about. It’s not only what’s your philosophy and what’s your position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.
    GORE: What about the Dingle-Norwood bill?
    MODERATOR: All right. We’re going to go now to another — all right. Yes.

  5. Around The Sphere June 30, 2007

    Our linkfest offering readers a Hometown Buffet of links to blogposts from websites of many different viewpoints. Linked posts do NOT necessarily refect the opinion of TMV or its writers.
    Do Recent Supreme Court Rulings Mean Historical Rulings Are Da…

  6. A few months ago the McClatchy news bureau didn’t even exist here in DC–but after going on a buying binge of failed newspapers, they drew the only possible lesson from their failures: they just weren’t loudly left-wing enough! Check out some of today’s other McClatchy headlines and you’ll see they’ve become basically an editorial, not a news, service.
    Which is OK, I guess–I mean it’s not illegal, is it? Not yet, anyway. And you could pretty much say the same thing about most of the mass media these days. But what their story actually amounts to is that Thompson is basically the only candidate who really scares their readership.

  7. Keep a careful eye on McClatchy, Ed, if only for bird-dogging the American Moonbat. Even more so than the AP, McClatchy has decided to fully embrace being the answer to the Moonbat question “FOX FOX FOX! Where’s the proof of liberal media bias anyway?”
    When your news division’s motto is Truth to Power you have an agenda if not a full-blown propaganda mill, certainly not a news service.
    That agenda will be to heap as much pain and Moonbat insanity upon GOP faithful as it can get away with. Hopefully, articles like this will discredit McClatchy enough to the point where that boundary is a very short leash indeed. It looks like they want to be the official media organ of the Moonbats, so if you want to know what Campaign ’08 means from the dark side, inform yourself.
    Forewarned is forearmed.

  8. I have to take issue with your characterization of the Thompson speech.
    The Union Leader editorial quotes him as saying: “If we do the right thing, we’ll be a magnet for people of all beliefs about all kinds of issues, but [who] basically [hold] their country’s issues first and foremost, and that’s the thing that we’ll have in common.”
    And that sounds substantive? I can’t think of a candidate from either party who couldn’t utter exactly that quote (reversing the parties for the Dems, of course): I’ll appeal to our party and every independent who “puts the country first.”
    If that’s not boilerplate, what is?
    And saying nothing about Iraq or immigration in this election cycle? That might be smart, traditional politics because it avoids making anybody angry. But it sure isn’t substantive.

  9. TedL:
    I believe that Ed was commenting that the entire visit around Manchester, the trip to the Union-Leader, and the speech was more substantive than just a nine-minute speech.

  10. You are so right about the McClatchley MO. I noticed it in a couple of their papers I read online. If there is bad news for the admin, it is pushed and pushed hard. If there is good news for the admin, you would be hard-pressed to find it even mentioned.
    As an example, before the surge started and there were a lot of US injuries and deaths, the count was there emphasized every day. Now that the surge is going on and the AQ is on the run, there is no news about Iraq on their website at all. Now I see stuff about Darfur or as national/international news I see stuff about the DA in LA being in trouble. You would think it was the Boston Glove or the NYT.

  11. I sent a contribution to Thompson and got back an email full of stale rhetoric about “change”. It could easily have come from Barack Obama’s campaign. I’m afraid that Thompson is not, so far, campaigning the way he blogs — with a straightforward and original voice.

  12. Fred Thompson has my vote! He reminds me of Ronald Reagan
    yeah, they were both actors.
    when Thompson preaches and steers the conservative party away from the religious right, towards smaller government and towards the Goldwater side of conservatism then he will be “more” like Ronald Reagan.
    if elected let’s also hope he leaves those now working in the Bush administration unemployed.

  13. I was there at the event. Actually there were two events, but the media were invited only to the larger one. The smaller event was a photo-op for those who contributed $500 a head. The larger event ran $50 a head, all monies going to the NH GOP -state- senate election fund. Both events were very well-attended. Despite major shortcomings in the Sheraton Wayfarer’s air conditioning system, the atmosphere was positively charged and Fred did a great job. Admittedly he did not address key campaign issues but he set the crowd’s expectations in advance, e.g. “I have no major announcements today”, “You can expect me to be back several more times”, “I’m not counting this trip [as a campaign visit]”. Plus his visit to Riley’s gun shop. Frankly, 9 minutes was just fine under the circumstances.

    If you’ve seen the FOX video of the appearance, you saw my wife lead things off with a rousing “Run Fred, Run!” at the start. She met Fred at the ariport and he autographed her copy of Conscience of a Conservative. She said Fred was very courteous and took time to say hello to everyone who showed up to welcome him.

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