Thursday, March 22, 2007

Savvy Schwartzenegger

Say what you want about his politics, but you can't deny that Arnold Schwartzenegger is a pretty smart cookie what it comes to working the media. Yesterday, he handled his latest controversy with perfect strategy and style.

Tuesday, the Governator called talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh "irrelevant," prompting the conservative Republican icon to accuse the governor of selling out his principles. Rush responded by calling Arnold a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and accused the governor of abandoning his conservative supporters.

Now, a politician has a number of options when he or she gets attacked by the media--none of them good. Ignore the comments and they become the "truth." Hold your own presser and try to refute the attacks--but then it turns into a ping-pong match you can't win.

Or you can do what Arnold did. Ask for an interview with the person who called you out. A risky proposition, because it usually backfires and you're left looking more ridiculous than before...unless you're a polished performer like Schwartzenegger. (Read the transcript HERE.)

He greeted Rush Limbaugh in a friendly, jovial manner, established they were old stogie-smokin' buddies--and then proceeded to dominate the conversation! Didn't let El Rushbo get a moment to respond. In fact, after the interview, Rush joked to his listeners:
Perhaps one of the reasons for Governor Schwarzenegger's sharp turn to the left under the guise of compromise has been owing to the ideology of his wife Maria. But after this interview, I'm not sure Maria gets a word in edgewise in their house. Governor Schwarzenegger obviously learned English and he hasn't stopped talking since!
The Governator's strategy was brilliant. Confront the media on their turf. Try it the next time you're under fire...but only if you're prepared to dominate the conversation.

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