One of the delightful and satisfying tales from Rick Scott’s campaign for Governor was his decision to boycott the editorial boards of Florida’s mainstream media (MSM)
On several levels, that’s a wonderful development. For one, it underscored a trend in Florida that you don’t need editorial endorsements to win. For another, Scott intuitively knew that Florida voters — who are center-right as a group– are increasingly distrustful of the political views of journalists.
Most MSM editorial boards pretend they’re performing a public service by interviewing candidates and making endorsements. Their we-know-what’s-best-for-you attitude prompts them to spout hokum like “We have the best interests of voters in mind in the voting process.” That gets a big laugh from those who know the Palm Beach Post has the most pronounced political agenda in the county.
Across Florida, editorial boards took umbrage when Scott refused to meet with them, but most of those boards had it coming, because most are controlled by liberal journalists who make a charade out of claiming to be non-partisan and balanced.
You name a race and I’ll give you a prediction of who these boards will endorse, and I will be accurate 9 out of 10 times. They go through the motions of pretend-fairness, but when the vote comes, the so-called “fourth estate” picks the liberal over the conservative, the “progressive” spender over the fiscally-prudent, and the government-grower over the government-shrinker.
Rick Scott called their hand. In essence, he said “I’m not playing your pretense game anymore, Randy Schultz; you can jump off the planet and take your socialist board with you.” He knew he wouldn’t get a fair shake from the editorialists, so he refused to waste his time. It was as obvious as a campfire on a moonless night that they’d do a hatchet job on him. So he snubbed them. Good for him.
By refusing to meet with these boards, Gov. Scott showed Florida that editorial endorsements don’t matter like they used to. He downgraded their opinions to the status of the non-essential.
BIZPAC has kept track of the success rates of local newspaper endorsements for years, and the Post’srecord of success at picking winners in the primaries is less than 50%.
Opinion editors accused Scott of “hiding from the press” or being afraid of a situation where he faced unfriendly questions. One editor opined that Scott’s lack of accessibility accentuated his obscurity, but there is one thing worse than obscurity for a politician, and that is attack journalism which seeks to discredit a candidacy. It’s better to be unknown than to be smeared and vilified. The truth is that Scott saw diminished value in a newspaper’s backing and didn’t want his words twisted. Nor did Texas Governor Perry, who also refused editorial interviews. Locally, West Palm City Commission candidate Diane Cantone also refused to interview with the Palm Beach Post. Maybe we’re seeing a healthy trend here.
So the journalists got their comeuppance. But that’s what ought to happen when editorial boards– some members of which are simply rude and arrogant– get too big for their britches, report comments out of context, refuse to print quotes that help candidates the board doesn’t like, and reach biased conclusions devoid of a factual basis.
Gov. Scott rang down the curtain on the MSM, which served to point out the hypocrisy and harm of the drive-by media, and voters are better off for it.