Tales from the Trail

Campaign veterans: The more things change….

October 22, 2008

kerrey.jpgNEW YORK- Former presidential contenders Gary Hart and Bob Kerrey on Wednesday weighed in on media coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential race, agreeing that certain weaknesses in contemporary coverage are the result of the prolific new forms of media while others are simply timeless.

Hart, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, said he wished media outlets would send reporters with specialized expertise to cover candidates delivering major policy speeches.

“Do not send your political reporter to cover the speech. Send your foreign policy reporter or your economic reporter or your defense reporter,” said Hart, whose second presidential bid was derailed by a sex scandal.

Hart, a former Democratic senator from Colorado, and Kerrey, a former Democratic  senator from Nebraska, appeared at a press forum in New York sponsored by the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, The New Yorker and Conde Nast Publications.

Kerrey, who ran for president in 1992, said his biggest frustration with the mehart2.jpgdia was “short memories.”

But he added: “It can work to your advantage as well as to your disadvantage.”

Hart also noted that with access to the Internet and the growth of new media, “everybody’s a journalist.”

But Kerry quickly disagreed. ”I would say that everybody is writing and putting stuff out there, but that doesn’t make them a journalist in my view, ” he said.

Kerrey, who is president of the New School in New York, recalled reading letters written during the 1860 presidential campaign by President Abraham Lincoln while seeking the same job more than a century later.

“His complaint was ‘I have to say the same thing over and over and over,’” Kerry said. “He’s basically complaining about having to stay on message.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credits: Reuters/Shaun Heasley (Kerrey in 2004, top; Hart in 2004, bottom)

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