Don’t Meet The Press: Sharron Angle’s Head For The Hills Media Strategy

Former Nevada state Rep. Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has developed a love-hate relationship with the press. She sure seems to love the conservative press, who welcome her to say whatever she wants and even ask viewers for money — and hates the mainstream media that have that annoying habit of constantly catching her saying damaging stuff. And if anything, the reassuring and friendly environment of conservative media interviews only leaves her more open to saying damaging stuff.

After Angle’s victory in the June 8 primary, it quickly became clear that she wasn’t exactly open with the press. During her first visit to Capitol Hill the very next week, she took back and side doors to avoid reporters. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that it was “going to take a few weeks” before the press would have access to her.

Back in Nevada just a couple days later, Angle fled a dogged local TV reporter who followed her through the parking lot, peppering her with tough questions that she wouldn’t answer. Watch it. A couple days later, another local news station resorted to begging for an interview. They didn’t get it.In an interview this month with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Angle bluntly explained that “the whole point of an interview is to use it — like they say ‘earned media’ — to earn something with it. And I’m not going to earn anything from people who are there to badger me and use my words to batter me with.” She also explained why she wasn’t sitting down with the likes of Meet The Press or This Week: “Well, in that audience, will they let me say, ‘I need $25 from a million people. Go to SharronAngle.com, send money?’ Will they let me say that?” No, they probably won’t.

Indeed, get a look at the list of media hosts to whom Angle has been open: Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Heidi Harris, Mark Levin and the whole crew at Fox News. With that said, it’s precisely those venues where she says stuff that gets her in trouble with the mainstream media. For example, it was during an interview with Larson in January that Angle floated the idea of “Second Amendment remedies” as a check on Congress — for which Angle later dodged questions from local mainstream reporters in Nevada. She eventually did back away in June from this seeming suggestion of armed revolution, during an interview with Jon Ralston, one of the top reporters in the state — and one of the few mainstream media appearances she’s actually done.

It was also during an appearance in early July with conservative talker Alan Stock that Angle opposed the $20 billion BP escrow account as a “slush fund”, a comment that she quickly recanted the very next day.

Angle’s more recent attempts to reach out to the press have been something of a strange mess. For example, this past Wednesday she held a “press conference” at which she took no questions, and suddenly walked away from reporters. Here is the Nevada Dems’ tracking video:

The very next day, she held another event at which she would take questions — but only about estate tax repeal, her spokesperson said:

So what has this style gotten her? Well, on the bright side, her dedication to fundraising has worked out. She quickly replenished her coffers after the primary, taking in more money than Reid himself during the same period, though Reid maintains a strong cash-on-hand ratio against her. On the other hand, the continued press coverage of her gaffes and reporter-dodging has served to wear her down — and played into Reid’s efforts to paint her as extreme — with Reid taking a lead in the TPM Poll Average of 44.0%-43.1%.

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