Posted // 2013-06-17 -
Attorney General John Swallow appears to be targeting the media in his bid to avoid impeachment by the Legislature.
In a leaked memo from his attorneys to Legislative counsel, the words “media,” “press” and “headline” appear 12 times. In fact, the word “media” is used four times in the opening paragraph alone.
It’s a common tactic to blame the media for unfair coverage when a political scandal hits. Swallow seems to be following this playbook by rote. Some examples:
“This discussion about impeachment is based on innuendo and unsupported allegations in the press.”
“This media fire has been uncomfortable for Mr. Swallow, and we know it has been uncomfortable for the legislators, as well.”
“(M)edia innuendos and distortions, often repeating the same series of false allegations, should not be allowed to unduly influence this prestigious body.”
“How we deal with this media assault on the Attorney General’s character will also be reflected in history.”
“This country was not founded on conviction by headlines -- particularly distorted headlines.”
It’s clear that Swallow and his attorneys are hyper-aware of how this is playing out in the media. They should be. Once a media fire gets going, there’s not much that can extinguish it.
Bottom line: Politics is an emotional game, and nothing can inflame passions more than the media. Swallow’s attempts to control the message have been ineffective at best, and the media coverage has completely spiraled away from him. The only positive coverage has mostly been confined to a few friendly letters to the editor calling for caution.
I’m reminded of a quote from Hubert Humphrey. “To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.”
It will be interesting to see whether lawmakers bite on the “blame the media” trope being floated by Swallow’s team.
Read more: Utah Policy - Swallow s Strategy Blame the Media