Monday 25 June 2012

Fairfax: a short lesson in compare and contrast

Most people would be aware by now that election campaigns in the US are expensive. Obama raised massive amounts of money for his successful campaign.

That money can be raised by a variety of means - taking small amounts from lots of people, or large amounts from a few people. Or a judicious mix of both. Everybody does it. 

But look at how Fairfax portrays things when two candidates do pretty much the same thing:


Obama's 'cool' meal ticket: $15m dinner with Clooney and the stars

As political fundraisers go, it's set to be an "Avengers"-sized blockbuster: 150 wealthy Democrats will dine with President Barack Obama at George Clooney's Studio City home on Thursday night.

Organisers expect to gross $15 million from the party for the president's re-election campaign - the highest amount ever raised at such an event.

High-profile guests including Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire, Barbra Streisand, director-producer J.J. Abrams, producer Nina Jacobson, Creative Artists Agency partner Bryan Lourd and ICM President Chris Silbermann are attending the dinner, which was organized by DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his political adviser, Andy Spahn.

But the Hollywood VIPs paying $40,000 a ticket will account for just over one-third of Obama's haul Thursday night; the rest is coming from members of the general public lured by an online contest that has astutely leveraged Clooney and Obama's joint star power.

and then there is much cooler assessment from Anne Summers:

Obama losing battle of the fund-raisers

LAST night President Barack Obama attended a fund-raising dinner party at the West Village home of movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. Co-host was Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. The price of a ticket was reported to be $80,000 a head.

So while Obama continues to pursue the grassroots online fund-raising that was so successful in 2008, for the really big bucks he is being forced to take his begging bowl to three different and potentially risky sources of funds: Hollywood, Silicon Valley and rich gays.

No one in the know doubts that the President's decision to support gay marriage was made with an eye to the pink dollar. A few days after the decision, a Hollywood fund-raiser hosted by George Clooney and including high-profile gay supporters raised $15 million.

The strategy is risky because it requires the President to be hanging out with the mega-rich at a time when his political message is directed to economically distressed Americans who are striving to return to being middle class. It could easily backfire on him.

Already the now much-united Republicans are trying to portray Obama as more focused on fund-raising than on governing. Given that he has done 160 events so far (compared with president George Bush's 74 at this time in the 2004 race), including six in just six hours in Maryland last Tuesday, it will not be a hard case to make.

So when Obama organises a very expensive and exclusive fundraiser, it is cool and groovy because it involves lots of creative types and gays.

Contrast this with how a fundraiser by Romney was covered today:

Romney donors enjoy lavish weekend away

PARK CITY, Utah: It was the kind of image Mitt Romney has sought to blunt during his campaign for president: a prodigious display of wealth.

At a private weekend retreat, big Romney donors quaffed 1927 port they had brought in for the occasion, mingled in the lobby of a posh resort called the Chateaux at Silver Lake and watched an aerial display of Olympic ski jumpers.

Billed as a ''senior leadership retreat'', the three-day gathering was a reward for the wealthy Republicans who have fuelled Romney's fund-raising, giving at least $US25,000 each or bundling at least $US100,000. Many of the more than 700 who attended had donated much more.

Donors schmoozed with Mr Romney at a barbecue, pressing him on labour regulations and the threat of a nuclear Iran as downhill skiers performed midair flips behind them. They rubbed elbows with Beth Myers, who is running Mr Romney's vice-presidential search, in the packed lobby bar, over $US15 glasses of scotch.

And they mingled with Mr Romney's wife, Ann, during an intimate ''Women for Romney Victory Tea'', held on an umbrella-shaded patio.

Dining on salmon overlooking the site of the 2002 Winter Games' ski jumping contest, donors were treated to an exhibition of synchronised skiers careening down steep ramps and doing flips in the air before landing in a pool. Mr Romney, the donors did not need to be told, led those Games.

Notice the key phrases slipped into the Romney article as attack words - "quaffed 1927 port", "posh resort", "wealthy Republicans", "schmoozed", "$15 glasses of scotch", "dining on salmon" etc etc.

The tickets for the Obama events cost 2-3 times as much as the Romney events. Do you think the rich Hollywood executives supped on château cardboard and sampled vegemite sandwiches with the crusts cut off?

It's little things like this that so annoy me about Fairfax - they can't tell a story without warping it to suit their ideological bent. And they wonder why their readers are going elsewhere for their news.

1 comment:

Steve at the Pub said...

Textbook example of the genre.
Love it!