Like many activist Democrats, I’m chronically dissatisfied with the messaging of the Biden administration, the Democratic National Committee, and the lib/left media more generally. Much of the communication reads like public service announcements, there’s not enough anti-GOP partisanship, what partisanship exists (“And no Republicans voted for this”) has little bite, and none of the more effective messages get amplified.
Both the Biden administration and the DNC have improved over the last month but recent tweeting by MSNBC broadcaster Joy Reid provides an excellent model for what official Democratic communication should look like:
1. An Aggressive Attack. My guess is that Joy Reid did not mean this as “Democratic messaging” but it’s excellent Democratic messaging all the same. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida used three black kids as props for his most recent anti-CRT announcement and Reid aggressively called him out for child abuse barely qualifying the statement as “tantamount to child abuse.” The anti-CRT announcement was another high point of DeSantis going after teachers and corporate training but Reid saw an element of racial abuse in the staging of the event and called him out.
2. Creates Controversy. When I accessed twitter this morning, Joy Reid was trending and there was an article about Reid’s accusation on the Fox News web site. As has often been the case with controversies pushed by Trump and the GOP, the Fox News headline served to spread Reid’s message:
MSNBC’s Joy Reid calls photos of Black kids at DeSantis event as ‘child abuse’
Yeah, the headline was that big!
In other words, Reid’s attack on DeSantis “made news.” One could say that Reid’s tweet would be even more effective if the “controversy” was reported by the New York Times and Washington Post or taken up by CNN, other MSNBC shows, and network news.
But one of the benchmarks for Democratic communication should be that it needs to “make news.”
3. Forcing A Response. Another benchmark for successful Democratic messaging is forcing a defensive response from the propagandists of the right and this is another area where Joy Reid’s attack was successful. In answer to Reid, DeSantis flak and superstar homophobic bigot Christina Pushaw tweeted:
“I was working at this event and helped with the set up. My colleague talked to all the kids beforehand & told them what the issue was & what bills @GovRonDeSantis was signing. Hundreds of people attended this event; those ~50 who ended up on stage freely chose to stand on stage,” Pushaw wrote.
4. Follow-up. Because the mainstream media views the right-wing as having a monopoly on controversy, the Democrats have a hard time getting their message amplified, such a hard time that the Biden White House needs to focus much more of their time on amplifying Democratic messages. It will be interesting to see if Joy Reid will address the controversy on The ReidOut tonight. But she did follow up with another post in the thread:
That sure looks like T. Willard Fair in the background. But I’ve been told by a trusted source that these were not Miami Urban League kids, standing there looking like they were at the dentist. Any Florida journalists have insight into this?
That prompted more discussion in the thread which brought out more facts.
4. Audiences. This kind of messaging doesn’t just serve to attack the Republicans. It gets Democratic messages to independent and moderate voters and also provides encouragement and support for Democrats. Democratic elites often get hung up on the idea of identity politics and campaign against the idea of politics as “teams.” But white conservative identity is the main thing driving GOP support for Trump, ideas of violent insurrection, opposition to Covid relief measures, etc. The Democrats need more identity politics, not less.