DELIVERING DISCOMFORT TO THE POWERFUL SINCE 2009

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Makings Of A Media Whore

SUNDAY COLUMN | Rep. Eric Swalwell is a young politician and like many experienced people in all ranges of endeavors, they are susceptible to learning bad habits early. The East Bay’s pubescent congressman discovered very early in his low-budget campaign to unseat the far more financed Pete Stark that free advertising by way of a complacent and enamored local media was the only way to effectively get out his message.

Such leaning on the media for a free ride, however well it worked in getting the 32-year-old Swalwell to Congress, may well have a corrosive effect going forward, especially since it seems to only encourage his already apparent predilection toward campy or strained publicity stunts. If the first few weeks of the Swalwell era in Congress are any indication, he is showing the makings of an enormous media hog willing to put his face in front of any camera while provocatively baiting well-known conservative bullies to sweep him before their enormous audiences.

The New Republic provides a good primer on Swalwell’s use of gimmicks to bring attention to himself going as far back as college. That led to his routine use of rubber ducks to mock Stark avoiding a second debate last year. Nevermind that the Stark campaign called him out for employing a fleet of yellow duckies made in China. Further recall that although Stark did much to get the media’s negative attention, while Swalwell deftly capitalized on it, there were frequent dead periods as Stark laid low when Swalwell distributed his own story lines to the media that either never caught fire or were ignored.

The furor offered by Alberto Torrico accusing Stark of bullying after registering support for Swalwell was manufactured. A report by KGO-TV even reveals it was Swalwell’s campaign who distributed Torrico’s hilarious victimization. Anger over Stark’s children receiving social security benefits was a Swalwell construct, too. Other times, the gambit failed, like when it they could find no takers for a story accusing Stark of using campaign funds to hire a clown to entertain at his children’s birthday party over three years ago.

These types of media tricks, of course, served their purpose then, but fail to work while in office without a definable foil. Cue Swalwell, the talking head. Since early December, Swalwell has made the rounds around the local radio dial, showed up on the local news in the run up to being sworn-in Jan. 3. All normal modes of introducing himself to the public, however, it has quickly morphed into a readily identifiable pattern of Swalwell searching for free national media anywhere he can grab it.

His appearance two weeks ago on with Sean Hannity on Fox News was surely a head scratcher for some local Democrats, who told The Citizen last Jan. 13 at party convention caucuses, its showed nobody in D.C. was watching over him. Meaning, if Democratic House members surely cared about his tenure in the 15th District, they would have talked him out of going on Hannity to be ambushed by the conservative firebrand. Indeed, that’s what happened as Hannity blitzed Swalwell on gun control and the right to privacy, while the Republican congressman appearing in the same segment was totally ignored.

Swalwell’s most desperate move for free media attention; however, came a few days before his debut on Fox News. In a tweet sent Jan. 7, Swalwell was clearly attempting to shove his way into a shouting match with conservative icon Rush Limbaugh, tweeting, “@RushLimbaugh calls ‘gay marriage’ the ‘normalization of pedophilia.’ From the guy w/ 3 ex-wives. #Unreal .“

Rushbo didn’t bite on Swalwell’s incendiary tweet, but the undisguised move by Swalwell, if anything, shows the rookie envisions himself in the starting lineup along with Reps. John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and other A-list congressional stars. It has shown that he sees questions about his liberalism as a potential negative in his district. If not, why attempt to cold-cock the biggest Republican bad guy immediately upon being handcuffed in the uber-unpopular congress?

What remains to be seen is whether he will strive to earn respect through legislation and leadership or will he continue to rely on strategies usually employed by television reality stars? In that case, Swalwell can never hope to eclipse Honey Boo Boo.

TWEET OF THE WEEK “My thoughts and prayers go out to KTVU who had a laptop stolen in Oakland. #news” - @_MikeT_ , Jan. 11, mocking news of another attack of members of the media on the streets of Oakland in the days after another round of murders to start the new year.

WEEK THAT WAS & WILL BE A barrage of meows and “fuck you, Chief Jordan!” rained down from the Oakland City Council chambers this week as its public safety committee recommended a $250,000 consulting contract for revamping the moribund and short-staffed police department to the full council. However, it seeks the right to exclude former New York City and Los Angeles super cop William Bratton from the contract. That means: we’re back at it next Tuesday, Jan. 22, for another raucous and venomous council meeting.

Fremont added a new member to its council for the third time in two years with the appointment of Raj Salwan. His appointment gives the council a distinctly Asian Persuasion for the first time in its history with fellow Indian American Anu Natarajan, who, by the way, did not vote for Salwan, and Suzanne Lee Chan.

The East Bay’s two newest members of the assembly are starting in definite divergent paths. While Assemblyman Rob Bonta has offered his first bills in the Legislature and appeared in high-profile press conferences with Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and Assembly Speaker John Perez, it has not been an auspicious start for Hayward Assemblyman Bill Quirk. He told The Citizen this week it will be some time before his offers legislation and, frankly, is having difficulty adjusting to Sacramento’s brand of politics.

Speaking of Hayward, its reformulated school board will take up the hot-button discussion of guns in the classroom in coming weeks and public employees in San Leandro may be nearing a new contract despite difficulties with the mayor and City Council. Workers, including the power police officers association, had been on the job since the previous contract expired last Dec. 31. The issue slated for discussion in closed session, Jan. 21. If no deal is struck, sources saying the unions may request binding arbitration—a scenario often hostile to management’s concerns.

QUOTABLE "Stop the behavior when it's small, stop the cancer when it's small," William Bratton, to The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18, repeating his often used analogy linking his brand of law enforcement to eradicating cancer.

BEST READS Read how another increase in the number of gang injunctions in Anaheim is working. Keep in mind, some city leaders in Oakland still hope to revive the controversial method of law enforcement. (OC Weekly, Jan. 18)

"Is Realignment a Model for Reform?" asks the East Bay Express in its cover story this week. (East Bay Express, Jan. 16).

"Wright Lassiter's Audacious Vision for Safety Nets" apparently includes quiting the job before the plan is fully realized. However, the Highland Hospital CEO's ideas for providing health care in the brave new world of Obamacare is a good read. (Health Leaders Media, Nov. 30, 2012).

Slap the word "reusable" on a plastic bag and its legal under Alameda County's new environmental ordinance, says the Grist's Susie Cagle. (Grist, Jan. 18).

22 comments :

By MW:

Comparing politicians to prostitutes could lead to a lawsuit for defamation.

In other words while prostitution is not generally considered to be one of the more respectable professions, however regardless I suspect that even most prostitutes still have a lot more honesty and integrity than does the typical politician. And as for I myself, if I was a prostitute, I would definitely sue for defamation, and maybe even challenge to a duel, anyone who had the the nerve and unmitigated gall to compare me to a politician.

In fact if you really want to insult somebody good, rather than calling him a SOB instead call him a SOP, in other words a son of a politician.

By MW:

As I wrote this, I decided that perhaps it is appropriate after all. Remember, we did suffer the odious Pete Stark for two generations. Or as that exulted president who was cut down at the conclusion of the War Between the states once observed with slight modification: two score exactly.

Almost time for the closet conservative to see daylight!

One of the local news stations (I think it was Channel 5's Fifth quarter show) put up a picture that Swalwell tweeted of himself and Mayor Lee celebrating the 49er's victory. WTF?

Guess Quirk is not a media whore. He is also taking time to think before acting. How quaint.

"Swalwell’s most desperate move for free media attention"

Desperate move? Please, the guy is only in his first month of his first year in office. He has 12 months plus in which to become desperate.

"shows the rookie envisions himself in the starting lineup"
(yeah, who does Kaepernick think he is)

I thought the Pete Stark campaign slogans would die away after their complete ineffectiveness was laid bare on Nov. 6th.

If the entrenched "old boy" network of Alameda County Democrats tries a Version-2 of Stark's talking points, they're gonna find out that there was more than just a old man involved in that loss.
A good portion of the electorate was simply tired of the insider crowd that has been controlling East Bay politics for decades.

HERE! HERE!

Down with union whores and entrenched party bosses!

Viva the people!!

I saw an interview he did with one news outlet where he spent the first twenty seconds talking about his college football team. I have no doubt that he is energetic and wants to serve his community, but I think he has significant problems with ego and ethics (not to mention I just don't think he's all that bright). He's just not ready for prime time. Insider, outsider, I don't care, but in 2014 I hope someone smarter and more qualified will be representing me.

6:09 PM, Of course, back in November you were most likely more than willing to have Pete Stark represent you for two more years. Now you want someone "smarter".
Suggesting you actually thought Stark was still "smart" despite not being able to appear in public without stumbling and fumbling each and every time.

Good, we'll get another real election in 2014.
That is what we should have had over the last 30 to 40 years when we had "make believe" votes every two years.

Swalwell also has a few things in common with Taylor Swift. Namely, muscling in on the Kennedy brand. Apparently, he has a crush on the red-headed Kennedy grandson who is also a part of the freshman class of the 113th Congress. Cute. He tweets photos of himself and Rep. Kennedy more than I do of my cat.

Anyway, Swalwell no longer has to worry about Ro Khanna as he is switching his focus to District 17, thinking he can knock off Mike Honda.

From todays Chronicle

"We called Khanna today to ask him about a possible race against Honda. His response: “I’m considering all options and am committed to public service in the future.”

Looks like Ro thinks he can't gain enough traction in the Eastern portion of the 15th district to compete.
He has one year to ramp up, and he is a virtual unknown in the Tri-Valley area.
Besides that, he really doesn't fit all that well with Hayward, Union City and Castro Valley compared to Corbett who IS already running.

He "fits" much better in the 17th district. Not even a close call, except for the fact that Honda is in that seat. After seeing Swalwell knock off Stark, I see his eyes opening up to the possibility of doing the same to Honda. But Honda is no Pete Stark and with two years in his new boundries, he has time to build and meet the people.

Ro can't wait too long. It will be about 10 years since he first ran. His "pull-by" date can't be much beyond 2014 and Honda is no more likely to be retiring in 2016 or 2018 than he is in 2014. Plus, he be even more entrenched in his new district boundries.

NO, its 2014 or bust for Ro, unless of course he can land a new post in Washington DC.

Really not sure about this one. Swalwell isn't doing anything that every other local politician hasn't done. Trying to get free press is a part of every campaign, and Swalwell is now engaged in a re-election campaign.
Candidates do all sorts of publicity stunts to try to attract attention to themselves. Some even write books, on the eve of their next attempt to run for Congress.
On that note consider the SF Chron article on Khanna vs. Honda. That story was posted after a source affiliated with the Khanna camp called in a tip in order to generate some buzz.
And 9:18 you are right Honda is no Pete Stark. He will have a united force behind him, not only labor and democratic party, but also a very loyal gang of activists and leaders.

Ro "Khan-job" Khanna platform: If at first you don't succeed [San Mateo County] try [Alameda County], try again [Santa Clara County].

No gift to the masses here. Just tired old junk.

Motto should be: "Please just give me a try because I want it so badly! Another Gavy Newsance going nowhere fast.

Fact is Ro actually had the experience and the wisdom to write a book about putting people back to work and keeping manufacturing here in the United States. (hate to burst your bubble but Newsom appeals to enough people to have gotten elected...personally, i'm not a fan)

Eric won so I'm going to give him the year to actually evolve into this responsibility. Like most of the new elected's this year he's already made some egregious mistakes and that points to his and other's egos. The reality that this is actually PUBLIC SERVICE not a popularity contest is hitting a lot of these folks and they are either ill-equipped or not as dedicated as the voters might have hoped that they would have been. But that's what you get when you look at the examples of Torrico, Haggerty, Hayashi, and Tauscher.

By the way, just what the fuck is Swalwell going to write about? His posing as a Spring Break MTV host to get girls in Mexico to show him their tits?

If you put academics before racism, substance before vanity, and performance before hypotheticals the choice in 2014 is going to be pretty simple. Then again, we're talking about the East Bay - not the go-to destination for anything but data on how mediocre middle class wannabe's of the country are going to vote in this week's American Idol.

Swalwell is a good egg and will do just fine, fuck you very much.

As for li'l 'ol Gavy Newsance, well, he is just a gold-diggin' troll whore who still thinks he can one day be king. Still hasn't recovered from visiting Fantasyland in Disneyland all those years ago!

"If you put academics before racism,"

Oh pleeze... Trotting out that tired line.

What next, experience before sexism?

A well balanced diet before veganism?

like i said, we're talking about the east bay here...

Notice how Pete Stark was NEVER on any news programs in 40 YEARS!!! He was an incoherent nut and no one wanted him on their news shows. Not even KTVU 2 would put that idiot on Dialing for Dollars in the 1970's he was such a jackass.

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