The New York Times today profiles Nevada US Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s apparent strategy of avoiding contact with the mainstream media at all cost. Angle is the Tea Party candidate who went from longshot to Republican nominee despite gaining national attention for suggesting the people should pay for their health care through a barter system (she fondly recalled the days of paying for a visit to the doctor by handing over a chicken) will run against Harry Reid in November.
Probably as a result of the “chicken” controversy, Angle has steadfastly avoided any interviews with any media outlet but the most supportive conservative talk radio hosts. Her campaign attributes this to the need to first organize and fully staff her election organization, but that explanation defies logic. Anyone who has ever run for office knows that “free media” should be aggressively sought. I do think there are at least two reasons why Angle and others (Rand Paul, Sarah Palin) have adopted this strategy. First, because of the internet, especially social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the candidate has considerable tools available to reach voters without resorting to the mainstream media. Second, many of these candidates hold views that are far outside the mainstream of American politics, and to be elected, they must fuzzy up their extremism by erecting a facade of moderation. It’s hard to do that when someone you can’t control is asking you the questions.