Who Steve Schmidt is*
If John McCain walks into the Oval Office next January, the credit will belong to Steve Schmidt. The New York Times looks at his influence on the McCain campaign and includes a gem that says more effectively than any media analyst has what's at risk as newspapers disintegrate and journalism standards decline:
Mr. Schmidt is considered by members of both parties to have a superior sense of a greatly altered news media environment, caused by the proliferation of political Web sites and blogs, providing all different ways of getting out information. This new environment, he has told friends, is easily manipulated because of round-the-clock thirst for news, increased competition, lowered standards created by the proliferation of outlets and hunger for the outrageous.
It was Mr. Schmidt, a fan of both pop culture and Ultimate Fighting, who pressed for the campaign to include Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in advertisements attacking Mr. Obama, aides said. It was Mr. Schmidt, they said, who pushed to drive blogs and other media organizations to present Mr. Obama’s outdoor convention setting as a pretentious temple by circulating photographs of columns and sending out a news release calling it the “Temple of Obama,” which were gobbled up by Web sites and cable television shows.
*Media manipulation is a big reason Palin was picked; already you'll see a marked shift in the tone on such aggregator sites as RealClearPolitics and Drudge Report, fewer analysis pieces and more stories and commentary that mimic the sarcastic line of attack heard at the Republican convention. Television media is the worst at handling this type of campaign. It cows them. Notice how anchors are busy praising Palin's political gifts and meekly explaining why they're delving into Palin's record. They become overly deferential. Mark Leibovich considers the media-bashing strategy in today's New York Times.