Tom Cotton's blacklist
What my own experience with Cotton's camp says about the GOP's un-Trumpian approach to mainstream media.
Based on under-the-breath whispers we were hearing from Republicans at the time, the piece detailed how Cotton’s wooden, academic persona was leaving some observers uninspired and hamstringing his efforts to bag a Senate seat in swiftly reddening Arkansas.
It’s easy to forget now but at the time the story published — early July of 2014 — Cotton’s challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor remained a single-digit contest. He went on to sail a Republican wave to victory over the incumbent by 17 points.
But Cotton hasn’t forgotten that mid-summer piece that outlined his imperfections ahead of his landslide. At least his office has not.
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I found out this week I’m on Cotton’s blacklist. Or at least a red flag list of journos kept by his communications team.
It’s an instructive lesson in the power of political gatekeepers, the tradeoffs made when publishing a tough but accurate portrayal and a burgeoning approach on the right to mainstream press that’s distinctly risk averse and un-Trumpian.