The candidate who bashes the press corps also serves doughnuts, shares drinks, and answers a lot of questions.
At campaign events, a fiery Sen. Ted Cruz often proclaims that his campaign has made reporters act “like they lit their hair on fire.” That after his presidency “there are going to be a whole lot of reporters and newspaper editors and journalists that have checked themselves into therapy.”
He prefaces each jab with the sarcastic phrase “our friends in the media” but then he sometimes does something curious: He knowingly wags his eyebrows at the jumble of reporters in the back of the room — a group that doesn’t seem to hate Cruz at all, and with whom Cruz sometimes goes out for drinks or shows up with a box of doughnuts. He’s also far more accessible for improptu questions than most candidates, and seems to genuinely enjoy the give and take.
Yes, the candidate who has most built his campaign on maligning the media — loudly confronting debate moderators, complaining of anti-GOP bias — is also one of the most media-friendly. Whereas Hillary Clinton has spent more than 70 days without a single press gaggle, and Marco Rubio’s town halls turn into speeches with no questions allowed, Cruz is regularly willing to engage with reporters.
It’s not that anyone thinks he loves the press. But Cruz, whose campaign wins high marks for strategic discipline and execution, seems to intimately understand that he needs the media the same way they need him.
“He’s not buddy buddy with the press, it’s grayer. He bashes the media for political effect, but maintains media relations adequately well and his team is definitely not jerks to us, totally fine professionals,” said the Dallas Morning News’ Todd Gillman, who follows the campaign regularly.
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