by Jeff Woods
Then last week, he released his second spot—30 seconds of silly blather about the candidate. This time, the ad itself isn't the problem. We bet Haslam does love his wife. But his campaign just had to get cute with reporters who asked to know how often the ad was airing. "Cable only, statewide," was the answer from Haslam flack David Smith.
Campaign media buys are public record, but you have to go to each TV station and rummage through the paperwork to figure it out. It takes forever. No doubt Smith thought reporters wouldn't check out his response. But while the rest of us were daydreaming about beer at Brandon's, the AP's Erik Schelzig was doing just that. He found the campaign is spending only about $23,000 to run the ad on Fox News through the middle of this month in the state's four largest media markets. That's a paltry buy, a fraction of what anyone naturally would assume was meant by "cable only, statewide." In the dark about this, media outlets across the state trumpeted the ad's release. For Haslam, it was mission accomplished. Lots of free media for a small price.
Here's the bad news for Haslam. The price actually isn't quite as small as he thinks. He msy lose the trust of reporters, who are suspicious by nature and not so forgiving. They especially don't like to be tricked. Haslam's next big media splash won't come so easily.