Explaining Rand Paul’s political success as a result of cuts in the local media

“The reason it matters is that because there is no longer a healthy, aggressive press corps–and no David Yepson-type dean of political journalists–candidates don’t run the same kind of gauntlet they once did. They’re not challenged by journalists.” –Joshua Green

Pundits have been offering all sorts of theories to explain the political success of Rand Paul, the radical libertarian/Tea Party candidate who recently won the Republican primary in Kentucky, especially in light of Paul’s recent political pratfalls: attacking the 1964 Civil Rights Act and saying BP is not to blame for the Gulf oil spill. Now the Republican party is trying to wrangle in the unpredictable politician.

David Simon, and others, have suggested that the next decade without newspapers will be a golden age of political corruption. Now, Joshua Green, writing on the Atlantic’s website, thinks layoffs at Kentucky newspapers, especially at the Louisville Courier-Journal, are to blame for Rand Paul’s ascendancy and his inability to handle national media attention (the Civil Rights Act flub happened during a national television interview on MSNBC and Paul became only the 3rd guest in over 60 years to pull out of an appearance on Meet the Press, a nationally-broadcast Sunday morning political news show). Without an agressive local press before the primaries, Green argues, Paul managed to keep voters focused on his message of a balanced budget and government overstepping the Constitution. Now that he faces the scrutiny of the national press corps willing to aggressively question Paul’s talking points, he’s making the sorts of mistakes one would expect to be uncovered by the local media before primary elections.

There is some counterpoint to this position, though, laying blame on the national media from the start. The Courier-Journal did, in fact, publish an editorial on April 25 which said Paul “holds an unacceptable view of civil rights.”

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