Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Keen Insight Into the Campaigns

Senator Barack Obama has often said that running his campaign has given him executive experience to be President. However, this account from inside both campaigns gives reason to pause and consider what his management style is really like:

Obama's campaign schedule is fuller, more hectic and seemingly improvisational. The Obama aides who deal with the national reporters on the campaign plane are often overwhelmed, overworked and un-informed about where, when, why or how the candidate is moving about. Baggage calls are preposterously early with the explanation that it's all for security reasons.

If so, I would love to have someone from Obama's campaign explain why the entire press corps, the Secret Service, and the local police idled for two hours in a Miami hotel parking lot recently because there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was not an isolated case.

The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" is broadcast. I suspect there is a feeling within the Obama campaign that the broadcast networks are less influential in the age of the internet and thus needn't be accomodated as in the days of yore. Even if it's true, they are only hurting themselves by dissing audiences that run in the tens of millions every night.

Keep in mind this is from a mainstream media reporter and they are, by all accounts, in the tank for the Democratic senator. But check out what he has to say next about Senator McCain's campaign:

The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who've been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure.

The McCain campaign plane is better than Obama's, which is cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time. Somehow the McCain folks
manage to keep their charter clean, even where the press is seated.

The other day in Albuquerque, N.M., the reporters were given almost no time to file their reports after McCain spoke. It was an important, aggressive speech, lambasting Obama's past associations. When we asked for more time to write up his remarks and prepare our reports, the campaign readily agreed to it. They understood.

Senator McCain has plenty of reason to not be very friendly towards reports given the reprehensible treatment he and his running mate have received from some media outlets. Yet his staff is far more courteous and attentive to reporters' needs.

Little details like this can make a huge impression. Successful organizations understand the importance of making sure everything works well. How these two men choose to treat the press speaks volumes about what kind of executives each of these men will be.

As the Bible says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." (Luke 16:10)

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