White House Communications Director Anita Dunn made headlines last week for calling out Fox News, now she’s drawing attention for comments she made about how the Obama campaign managed to control and route around the traditional press. You can bet this video is going viral. (Embedded below).
In footage from a January conference, Dunn candidly explains the campaign’s disciplined emphasis on disintermediation:
The reality is that whether it was a David Plouffe video or an Obama speech … a huge part of our press strategy was focused on making the media cover what Obama was actually saying — as opposed to why the campaign was saying it, what the tactic was…. One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters. We just put that out there and make them write what Plouffe had said — as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it, as opposed to the press controlled it. And it did not always make us popular with the press… increasingly by the General Election, very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control.
The political establishment — from top reporters to rival campaigns — was slow to grasp this dynamic during the actual campaign. Back in January 2008, for example, Obama broke several viewership records on YouTube, reaching voters directly, without comment from the press or countermeasures by other candidates:
Obama was the only presidential candidate to tape a rebuttal to President Bush’s State of the Union for YouTube…. [it] was the most watched clip in the world… The public has shown overwhelming and sustained interest in hearing from Obama directly. This is the third Obama video to shoot into YouTube’s top three in the past 10 days — past clips of naked celebrities and Scientology rants — and the first video that was shot specifically for web viewers, rather than broadcasting documentary footage of a speech…. The traditional media has been slow to grasp Obama’s YouTube surge. (There has not been a single article in a major newspaper about the new records in the last 10 days.) YouTube politics are largely covered for gaffes (Macaca) and attacks (1984 ad). But the press is starting to notice the flipside of the Obama Campaign’s communication strategy. It’s the part that affects them. As the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reports in a new article: