Opinion

Whitman gets “bait and switched” by Gloria Allred and the media

Sam Foster Contributor

It’s the oldest liberal political trick in the book and it works every single time thanks to the compliance of the liberal media; it’s the old political “bait and switch” tactic and here is how it works:

Make up a salacious but bogus claim to get media attention, and then bait the political target on a minute/mundane/useless detail in the hope of producing a gotcha moment.  Should a gotcha moment occur, switch the media focus to that instance so that no one remembers the fact that the first charge is bogus, thus making it look like two allegations are true, when, in fact, one is scurrilous and the other is manufactured.

Republican California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s “NannyGate” is nothing more than the “bait and switch” du jour.  Here is how it breaks down and how Meg should have handled it.

Allegation Number One: “Meg Whitman should have known housekeeper Nicky Santillan was illegal”

When Nicky Santillan’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, tipped the political allegation spear she falsely claimed:

A mismatch of a Social Security number to an employee’s name is a clue that the employee may be undocumented.

Yet the very documentation Allred produced shows this statement to be a known fallacy (she had the document in her possession).  The letter produced as “evidence” directs and even mandates recipients to disregard immigration status as a reason for SSN and name mismatch:

This letter does not imply that you or your employee intentionally provided incorrect information about the employee’s name or SSN…Any employer that uses the information in this letter to justify taking adverse action against an employee may violate state or federal law and be subject to legal consequences.  Moreover, this letter makes no statement about your employee’s immigration status.

Thus, Allred’s and Santillan’s first allegation is proven false by the very “evidence” they produced, but no one noticed because the sleight of hand was busy at work making…

Allegation Number Two: “Meg lied about the letter”

Now that Allred has provided documentation contrary to Meg’s claim that no document existed, the media has moved to the second allegation without clearing up the fact that allegation number one is false.

The malpractice of the media is essential for this political maneuver to work, because the validity of allegation number two rests on no one noticing the water leaking out of allegation number one.  Clearly, Meg is telling the truth about forgetting an eight-year-old letter that housekeeper Santillan removed from the house probably many, many years ago, because the letter actually proves Whitman’s statement; that she didn’t know her housekeeper’s immigration status.  She has no motive to lie about a piece of paper that actually exonerates her story.  In fact, had Meg remembered the letter, her campaign probably would have tried to produce it themselves.

Sadly, “bait and switch” is an extremely common political ploy.  I’ve already exposed one earlier this month and I suspect more will come as candidates’ desperation increases.

The reason why this is such a useful political tool is because candidates and campaigns do not play the “bait and switch” game very well.  The correct way to handle this game is to continually hammer home that the first allegation is false in order to deflate allegation number two; the truth about the first allegation proves there is no motive to the subsequent allegation.  Instead, campaigns get distracted by the media coverage of the latest political charges and the truth dies in the blaze of thousands of misleading news headlines.

Sam Foster is a NY correspondent for PJM, a writer for the blog Left Coast Rebel and editor of the Upstate Political Report.