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Posted at 01:48 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Rick Santorum and the Nixon playbook


Richard Nixon smiles as he leaves Washington after his resignation. (Associated Press)
Press-bashing is an important staple of any candidate’s repertoire in part because it’s so easy and always useful.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich made excellent use of it when, in a televised debate, he went after CNN’s John King for daring to ask about his second wife. Some say it may have given Gingrich the boost to win South Carolina.

More recently, former senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) used the “double-standard” feint to excellent effect in order to deflect criticism of a backer’s now infamous “aspirin between her legs” observation on women and contraception.

“Look, this is what you guys do,” he told CBS News’s Charlie Rose. “You don’t do this with President Obama. In fact, with President Obama, you. . . defended him” after Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s pyrotechnic sermons were revealed.

“It’s a double standard, this is what you’re pulling off,” he said, “and I’m going to call you on it.” Seemed to work well.

We recall the Rev. Wright controversy was huge news at the time, and the constant media pounding forced Obama to make a big speech on the issue, but whatever.

Pols would do well to be guided by the master on handling the media, President Richard M. Nixon.

Our colleague Karen Tumulty reminds us of a June 2, 1971 memorandum the former president wrote to his chief of staff Bob Haldeman, before Haldeman’s Watergate resignation.

“I hope you will note the next time you are talking to [press secretary Ron Ziegler and other aides] that in this first press conference. . . after the White House Correspondents Dinner, where I played the ‘good sport’ role, the reporters were considerably more bad-mannered and vicious than usual. This bears out my theory that treating them with considerably more contempt is in the long run a more productive policy.”

Advice to be pinned on the wall of everyone who ever runs for office.

By  |  01:48 PM ET, 02/21/2012

 
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