Campaign Coverage Irrelevance

Man in bubble

It may be early in the presidential primary season (really, it is!) but there is already a steady stream of irrelevant press coming out. This particular one goes beyond such fluffy issue stories as Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) wife once made a donation to Planned Parenthood and is instead a process story focusing on the John Edwards (D-NC) campaign’s decision to move campaign staff from Nevada to other early primary states:

It’s the first western state to weigh in on the 2008 Democratic candidates, but White House hopeful John Edwards is transferring a “handful” of his Nevada staff to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the campaign said Wednesday.

Jonathan Prince, Edwards’ deputy campaign manager, said the move is not a consequence of strained resources or a sign that the former North Carolina senator is less committed to winning the Nevada caucuses.

“As the calendar fluctuates, with Iowa and New Hampshire moving up significantly, we need to accelerate hiring there to hit our organizing targets, so we’re shifting some trained staffers there, but we are as committed as ever to winning Nevada,” said Prince in an e-mail to CNN. – CNN Political Ticker

CNN ran the story on their Political Ticker blog with the slug “Edwards moves staff out of Nevada.” While technically accurate, this is nonetheless a misleading headline. The implication is that he is folding his tents there are relocating the whole staff. This is a basic, and wise, strategic decision. The more appropriate headline would be “Primary reshuffling inspires strategic shift for Edwards.” which article could then go on to explore whether other campaigns have made similar moves, and if not, why.

With the seemingly constant state of flux in the primary calendar, such basics as where to place staff, equipment, supplies, etc. must remain in near constant flux as well. Any campaign which does not reflect the fluid state of the calendar is either spending too much on excess staff and support, or is not keeping a strategic view of the race.

So, CNN, what’s the real story here? What are the other campaigns doing? Why are you pretending that any one campaign is operating in a vacuum?

PS – No, I am not endorsing Edwards. That’s not the point, I just think we need a bit more intellectual honesty, or intellectual rigor, in our coverage.

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