Karl Rove has been a political consultant since leaving the White House in 2007, working for the Republican Party and serving as a commentator for various media organizations. He is often credited with engineering George W. Bush’s victories, including two elections for Texas governor and two for U.S. president.
Phineas T. Barnum was a showman (and a former politician!) best remembered for creating international hoaxes and for founding a circus. He famously directed what public relations guru Fraser Seitel calls “pseudo events” — happenings and curiosities that sold tickets to a gullible public.
Last week, Karl Rove unleashed a firestorm of discussion among political pundits at Fox News and other media when he speculated that Hillary Clinton “may have brain damage” resulting from a 2012 concussion. He later stood by his “concern,” telling Fox last Sunday, “I’m not questioning her health. What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal that she’s running. And she would not be human if she did not take this into consideration.” He told the Washington Post that he believed she suffered “a serious health episode” and would “have to be forthcoming” and “cough up her medical records” if she runs for president.
Top Republicans from John McCain to Michael Bloomberg blasted Rove, calling his comments “disgusting” and “outrageous.” But the news organizations were all over the story, and it became central to political conversations this week. Mission accomplished, Mr. Rove.
In this blog I previously compared Donald Trump with P.T. Barnum in light of Trump’s relentless media campaign regarding whether Barack Obama was born in the United States. He honed in on people’s prejudices to help create a prolonged and silly public discussion. Like Trump, Karl Rove is P.T. Barnum revisited. By raising a false issue, he created a pseudo event that was and will be talked about. And like Barnum, Rove doesn’t care what’s true, as long as doubts about Hillary’s health will be raised if and when she announces her candidacy. Your thoughts?