Politics

The Liz Mair Affair

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

By now, you’ve heard about Scott Walker’s decision to fire social media consultant Liz Mair for controversial tweets and statements (technically, she resigned). With the exception of the Breitbart empire, most national conservatives I know are defending her today.

And this is appropriate. Like Erick Erickson and Jazz Shaw, I don’t always agree with Liz politically, but I consider her a friend and an utterly competent operative. Seriously, she is one of the best in the business at what she does.

But since she has no lack of defenders, I do think there’s an angle to this that is left unstated — probably because it’s obvious: This is inevitable result of new media and the rise of celebrity consultants.

It used to be that political operatives were mostly seen, but not heard. At least, they didn’t speak for themselves — didn’t voice their own personal opinions. But in recent decades, many have parlayed campaign success into TV hits and the like. Going on TV is fun, and who doesn’t want to be a little famous? Meanwhile, social media makes it incredibly easy for all of us to say spontaneous (and dangerous) things.

Call me old school, but I’ve always thought that, at some point, you sort of had to pick a lane. You can either be a contrarian and controversial commentator, or you can work for candidates and companies. But if you choose the latter, you must suppress some of your desire for mischief. It’s really hard to have it both ways. If you want to be an irreverent pundit, that may disqualify you from other professional opportunities.

This is merely the latest example of this phenomenon. It’s not going away. This is the new normal.