Owens the master in JonBenet case:
My new media analysis column for the Rocky Mountain News looks at how Republican Governor Bill Owens used the JonBenet case, and other sensational national Colorado crime stories, to his political advantage:
Although Ronald Reagan faced a hostile media, he succeeded politically in part because he knew how to beat the media at its own game; by carefully limiting the supply of presidential photo opportunities, Reagan ensured that even when the words in a television story about his policies were negative, the pictures would be positive.
Similarly, Owens on policy was well to the right of much of the Colorado media. Yet he was very good at delivering soundbites for big crime stories, reinforcing popular (although not necessarily accurate) public opinion about somebody's guilt. He thus used the media to disseminate an image of himself as a straight-talking, common-sense leader who was not afraid to criticize the guilty (or rather, those who had been proclaimed guilty by the media).
Like a martial artist who turns his opponent's greatest force into a vulnerability, Reagan jiu-jitsued the picture-dependent national TV networks. Likewise, Owens turned the media's obsession with sensational crime stories into a showcase for himself.